Oct 5, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher David Price (14) pitches during the first inning in game two of the American League divisional series playoff baseball game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Could A David Price-Seattle Mariners Deal Involve A Third Team?

The Mariners have been the most heavily linked team to David Price as rumors have heated up over the past week at the Winter Meetings. Their best trade chip is easily Taijuan Walker, who is one of pitching prospects in baseball. Given Price’s value as one of the best pitchers in the MLB, it would be easy to see Walker as the headline of any Mariners’ offer for Price. But, as John Heyman tweets, Walker seems untouchable in the eyes of the Mariners, who would rather center any Price package around position players, possibly including catcher Mike Zunino.

Zunino, who was the number 3 overall pick in the 2012 MLB draft, is the Mariners’ most valuable position player. He was also the consensus top catching prospect in baseball before graduating to the big leagues in 2013. However, the Rays are already set at catcher for 2014 and 2015 after acquiring Ryan Hanigan and extending him for 3 years and resigning Jose Molina for 2 years. Young catchers are always at a premium, so the Rays could still acquire Zunino and let him season in the minors for a little longer before figuring out a way of getting him on the roster. However, the Rays would likely want a better fit as the headlinet of any Price package. Therefore, a trade might work better if the Rays and Mariners involved a third team.

There are many teams without a long term solution at catcher, so the market for Zunino would be quite large. Young catchers that have Zunino’s potential are rarely made available, so teams would jump on the opportunity to acquire the catcher of their future. Being able to flip Zunino to a third team would allow the Rays to acquire a prospect that is better fit. I imagine that Andrew Freidman would target a pitching prospect in this situation, although a first base prospect could also be a fit.

Teams that could potentially matchup in a three team deal are the Los Angeles Dodgers, Baltimore Orioles, and Minnesota Twins, among many others. Given the fact that Zunino is under big league control for at least six years, the team that acquired him would not have to be immediately ready to contend. The third team would need the type of quality prospect that the Rays are looking to acquire, as well as the willingness to part with them. But given the rarity of young catchers on the trade market, the Rays and Mariners would likely find a team willing to give up a top prospect to acquire Zunino.

Below is an example of how this three team deal could work if the Dodgers matched up with the Mariners and Rays.

Mariners Acquire: SP David Price from Rays

Rays Acquire: SP Zach Lee and SP Chris Reed from Dodgers and 2B/SS Nick Franklin, LHP Danny Hultzen, 1B Justin Smoak, and RHP Edwin Diaz from Mariners

Dodgers Acquire: C Mike Zunino from Mariners and 1B Alejandro Segovia from the Rays

This trade works well for all teams. The Mariners acquire Price from the Rays without having to give up their top pitching prospects in Walker and James Paxton. The Rays still get the close to major league ready pitching prospect that they are seeking in Lee, and another upper levels prospect, albeit one with less upside, in Reed. Franklin is a young player with a solid bat and the versatility that the Rays love. Hultzen is coming off shoulder surgery, but the former number two overall pick still has incredible upside when he gets healthy. Smoak would fill an immediate need at first base, and could be the Rays’ starter or at least a nice platoon mate with Sean Rodriguez. Finally, Diaz also would be a good acquisition for the Rays as a lower level, high upside player. The Rays not be getting a true consensus top prospect with Zunino going to the Dodgers, but they would be getting six impact players, four of which could see time in the major leagues next year (Hultzen won’t because he is hurt), and they could make the Rays better even without David Price.

The Dodgers would get their catcher of the future in Zunino as well as a fringe prospect in Segovia whom the Rays would have little issue parting with. They would have to give up two former first round picks, but neither Lee nor Reed is considered the Dodgers’ top prospect, and acquiring a catcher of the future would be a conisderable haul. This is just one possible scenario that could occur if the Rays and Mariners involve a third team, but it is a good representation of how this deal could work out.

Thus far, teams who have shown interest in Price seem uninterested in giving up their top pitching prospect to acquire him. Therefore, the Rays could get creative to acquire the topflight starting prospect that they are looking for. A three-team deal is one way the Rays could get a hold of the prospect they want. This could work well between the Mariners and Rays, as the Mariners could look to trade Mike Zunino to a third team as well as other players to the Rays. This team, in turn, would flip one of their top prospects to the Rays. The Rays will explore every avenue they can to get the most value in return for Price and adding a third team to the mix could very well be the way they do just htat.

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Tags: David Price Mike Zunino Tampa Bay Rays

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  • Justin Jay

    Walker had an interesting tweet yesterday, that he has since taken down. He was unaware that he was giving up his #27 to Corey Hart and put out vibes where he feels he may be traded soon.

    • Robbie_Knopf

      Interesting…that was probably an overreaction and I doubt he’s dealt, but you never know.

  • thedude1987

    It still seems like the mariners would be giving up a lot of years of control for 2 years of price. Something like 15-20 years of control, at minimum salary for MLB ready or near MLB ready players, for 2 years of price at $30M. Sounds like Berdard trade headlined by Jones all over again.

  • kingcorran

    Aaaaaaaand the Mariners then have no catcher. Brilliant.

  • Scot Forler

    way too much for mariners to give up and highly doubt Walker or Zunino get moved for Price.

  • Chase

    No way the M’s do that. Zunino, Hultzen, Franklin, Smoak, and Diaz for two years of Price??? No chance. Talk about under valuing prospects…..

    • The_Unnatural

      Rays colored glasses, indeed. That trade actually makes the M’s much worse, both now and in the future.

    • Thechairman66

      I’m an Indians fan so I have no dog in this fight but I agree. That’s way too much for Price. Also, I doubt many teams would be willing to trade a top pitching prospect for a top catching prospect. I’m skeptical that even a team like the dodgers would swing a trade like that.

  • Jimmy Lolita

    Zunino isn’t getting traded. This would be a terrible trade for Seattle. Throw in a Zobrist or Desmond Jennings and maybe they make a deal where they give up a bunch of young talent. Topping that off, you have Seattle trading Danny Hultzen. Apparently you weren’t’ aware he had TJ surgery and will miss all of 2014.

    • thedude1987

      “Hultzen is coming off shoulder surgery, but the former number two overall pick still has incredible upside when he gets healthy.”

      It’s there. How often does an injured minor league player, that is going to miss the entire next season, get traded?

    • Dane Williams

      Hultzen had shoulder surgery which is MUCH harder to come back from than just TJ surgery (which is on the elbow). I can easily see them having him in a trade, and including Zunino. Not like they don’t have Montero in the minors still.

  • raffish

    This was a waste of everyone’s time. The trade leaves the M’s with no catcher, and the Rays get an otherworldly haul of 1st round picks. Good luck with that, Drew.

    • RealisticMariner

      Ultimate Ray’s fanboy trade.

  • Rusty Shackelford

    “Lee nor Reed is considered one of the Dodgers’ top prospects” Lee, Pederson, Seager. Arrange them anyway you want and you have the Dodgers’ top prospects…..Reed is also top 10…probably somewhere around #7. How exactly aren’t they considered any of the Dodgers top prospects? This writer has got to be a Rays fan.This trade makes absolutely no sense for any team involved except the Rays.

  • Peter

    Zunino for Price (even in roundabout way) would be an incredibly stupid trade for the Mariners, but my expectations for them are pretty low as far as making good decisions goes.

    • Peter

      Let alone everything else added to the package. I wouldn’t do Zunino for Price straight up.

  • David

    Wow, really? Five of the M’s best prospects, most with 5-6 years of cheap team control for only two years of Price. That would be the worst trade in franchise history and considering our track record that’s saying something.

  • drwheelock

    No way Zunino leaves. Seattle doesn’t have any Catcher then! Walker/Paxton are untouchables in a Price deal, and so is Zunino.

    I do like a 3rd team being involved, because Seattle is getting LOTS of strong interest in Franklin right now, and creativity could land Price in a 3-team trade, with Franklin going elsewhere. And if other Seattle prospects are included, then there is a chance Seattle gets something else back from that 3rd team…depending upon the package & needs of each team.

  • Quilcene

    Ha, what a joke- Seattle better not give up more than some AA fodder -they aren’t ready to compete next year- and Price won’t resign there, so why bother- let him go somewhre else.

  • http://www.femalewrestlingchannel.com/ Johnny Ringo

    The Cubs could get involved in a 3 way deal as well. You gotta think they would be in on Franklin or any of the starting pitching prospects that could be acquired.

  • mattob

    Drew, are you smoking crack? There’s no way the Mariners will trade Zunino. They’ve had horrible C solutions for years. It just makes no sense to make the team weaker for 2 years of Price (Who will NOT resign there).

  • Robbie_Knopf

    Let’s just clarify something here: we have already heard multiple times that the Mariners are willing to trade Mike Zunino. About the other prospects, Lee and Reed have seen their upside go way down, Hultzen is coming off a serious surgery, Smoak is not nearly the player we thought he would be, and Diaz is lightyears from the major leagues. The trade offer Drew is presenting seems ridiculous in terms of name recognition, but quite a few of the players are not who they once were.

  • gmantacoma

    Why would the M’s trade Zunino?? Then they would be one of the “many teams without a long term solution at catcher’

  • TheRealRyan

    I would be upset if the Rays made that trade. You trade David Price for quality, not quantity. You trade him for players with superstar ceilings, not a bunch of backend SP and borderline starters.

    • Robbie Knopf

      The best move would probably be for the Rays to just trade for Zunino and not get a third team involved. He needs more seasoning in the minors anyway, and the Rays can worry about have too many catchers when he proves he is ready.

    • TheRealRyan

      I absolutely agree with this. The key is getting the best player, regardless of position. Truthfully, I would rather have Zunino over Walker anyway. Historically, position players with Zunino’s prospect status are much more likely to become starters and stars than any pitcher. Even those as highly ranked as Walker.