July 19, 2012; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher David Price (14) walks back to the dugout after he pitched the fifth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

What Do We Make of the Rays’ Enormous Demands for David Price?


Entering the offseason, everyone knew that if anyone wanted to acquire Tampa Bay Rays ace left-hander David Price in a trade, the cost was going to be significant. We did not think, though, that the Rays would be asking for as ridiculous of a return as this. Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that the Rays were asking for Carlos Santana and Danny Salazar as “starting points” in a potential Price deal to the Cleveland Indians, with a top prospect like Francisco Lindor completing the package. What does that even mean?

There is no way to construe that as a deal that the Indians would consider making even for a moment. Santana may no longer be a full-time catcher, but he is still coming off an enormous offensive year, managing a .268/.377/.455 line ((137 OPS+) with 39 doubles and 20 home runs. Salazar, meanwhile, rolled between Double-A and Triple-A before bursting onto the scene for 10 regular season starts with Cleveland before the year was through. The Indians even thought enough of him to start him in the AL Wild Card playoff against the Rays. Trading either of them would be a big hit to the Indians–trading both is an impossibity, and adding in Lindor is simply overkill. What point were the Rays trying to make demanding a package the Indians would say no to instantaneously?

Are the Rays’ demands to the Indians indicative of how highly they value Price? Would they only trade him in a deal that looks like an obvious win for them right from the start? If we read into Pluto’s report from that angle, it seems like it is becoming exceedingly likely that the Rays will hold onto Price for next season. The Rays have all the power in the trade talks–they have no need to trade Price, and they can ask for whatever they want from opposing teams. They have always said that they will only trade one of their star players if an offer blows them away, and with Price the best player they have ever considered trading, the standard for that type of offer is higher than ever. We can say that David Price is not going anywhere unless the Rays receive an insane return, and with the odds of them getting that return looking low, we can expect that he will be the Rays’ starter on Opening Day for 2014. But looking at this report from that perspective leaves one big thing out: trade talks are not a monologue but a conversation. How did the Indians respond when they heard the Rays say that?

The Rays are shooting for the moon with David Price, and they are going to see if they can get it. Realistically, they were never going to get Santana and Salazar for Price, but starting the negotiations that high means that they can settle for significantly less and still find their way to a monster return. What did Chris Antonetti the Indians say after hearing that Andrew Friedman and the Rays wanted Santana and Salazar? Did they offer Santana and a second-tier prospect for Price? Did they propose a package built around say Salazar or Lindor and Trevor Bauer? The Rays tossed all those names out there, and the question is going to be who the Indians are actually willing to part with. If they said they would be willing to deal just one of the players the Rays mentioned, that is enough to start talking. No, Andrew Friedman and the Rays have not lost their minds. No, David Price is not a lock to be in Tampa Bay next season. Friedman is just executing a negotiation strategy and seeing just how close to his lofty demands he can actually receive.

Tags: Andrew Friedman David Price Tampa Bay Rays

  • phattitudes

    The Cleveland case, which is only rumored, seems out of line by a bit. However based on the return they got for Shields, a bigger return would be expected for Price. The Shields trade yielded a top 5 prospect, who was Minor League player of the year, and a top 30 pitching prospect at a minimum. Myers was a credentialed AAA player who put up monster stats. He was as sure a bet as you get with a “prospect” Odorizzi was a also a AAA player with a strong winning record and low ERA. He was very near major league ready and a relatively low risk prospect. Lindor is a AA player and much less proven and therefore a higher risk. He is a strong fielding shortstop who has hit good “for a shortstop”. He is no Myers offensively. Now Cleveland may be assuming he is hall of fame bound but he does not have the credentials a Myers had. So do Salazar and Lindor might measure up to Myers and Odorizzi? Maybe, but they do not blow them away. Now there is the matter that Price is a left hander who is a Cy Young winner, 2 years younger than Shields with a better winning percentage. Therefore he is in a tier above Shields and therefore worth even more than Shields. The return required is indeed astronomical. There are few teams that could even propose a package of the quality required. They would have to compensate with quantity. Is the price too high? Most likely for most teams it is. You never know the right offer may still come in. No matter what happens, the Rays are taking the right stance in holding the line on the value they are demanding. Next summer or next off season his value will decline to a more reasonable level which will still be plenty high. He will be much more traceable at that time. Don’t be surprised if some of those offers are similar to what teams are reportedly willing to offer now. The Mets got a lot for Dickey and Price is 10 years younger. Meanwhile the Rays will have no problem finding a use for a Cy Young winner to throw every 5 days during the 2014 season.

    • Robbie_Knopf

      Agreed. Lindor is no sure bet at the plate, Salazar’s command is still a work in progress, and Bauer was not even mentioned because of his struggles. If the Indians did want to make a package, it would have to include two of those three and several others from their top prospects (say Fernando Mejia and Cody Anderson) because their system really drops off after those top three and 2013 first rounder Clint Frazier.

  • phattitudes

    By the way, I believe the only teams that can start a valid trade with with the Rays are St Louis, Seattle, and Texas. Of those Texas would have to give up Profar and probably a current roster pitcher like Perez to start and I doubt they are willing to do that. Seattle could do it but Walker is a must along with another pitcher like Hultzen for starters. They haven’t been willing to go there yet. Pittsburg has Tallon and Polance but it may not be enough to start. It depends on what the Rays feel about Polanco. St Louis can definitely do it in a variety of ways. I believe the one must have would be Taveras. Then they would need to add in a pitcher brought up last year (Miller, Wacha, or Gonzalez) and probably would additionally need to include Gonzalez. This may need to be a multiplayer deal to achieve the right balance but it could work. Unfortunately the Cards may be feeling pretty secure with their pitching based on last years results. They have a lot of young pitching and they might not feel the same come mid season. The Cubs and Twins have prospects but they also have significant rebuild needs so they are not really in the picture. Pittsburg has good prospects in Taillon and Polanco but they lack proven performance at AAA level.

  • prodave

    Agreed that if Cleveland didn’t just tell Friedman to get out of town, then it was a high offer, not an unreasonable one. One could easily see a counter-offer of, say, Yan Gomes, Trevor Bauer, and Dorssys Paulino continuing the conversation.