The Tampa Bay Rays are going to trade David Price–it is only a matter of time. The million dollar question, though, is exactly how much time it is going to take. Buster Olney writes that the Rays are ready to deal Price the moment that the right offer comes around. The fear is obvious: if Price gets hurt, the Rays will miss their golden opportunity to trade him. Price starts today, after which the Rays will have five days to make something materialize before he starts again. Will this start indeed be Price’s last in a Rays uniform?
The reason to think that a deal will come together is the Rays’ desire to trade Price as soon as possible. But there are two reasons to think that he will still be around for his scheduled start on Monday, June 30th, and quite possibly beyond. The first is the trade talks–or lack thereof–that we have heard about so far. We have heard teams mentioned as being interested–the Los Angeles Dodgers, the St. Louis Cardinals, and the Toronto Blue Jays to name a few–but we have literally heard nothing about any specific team being in negotiations with the Rays. For James Shields, we heard “talking” for weeks before a deal finally came through. This trade could be a different story, but is it really going to go from zero to sixty so fast?
The other side of the equation is the history of June deals in Major League Baseball in the 21st century. Last June, the two biggest deals were Eric Young Jr. heading from the Colorado Rockies to the New York Mets and Juan Francisco going from the Milwaukee Brewers. In 2012, Kevin Youkilis was dealt from the Boston Red Sox to the Chicago White Sox. The last major deal before that was when Nate McLouth moved from the Pittsburgh Pirates to the Atlanta Braves. And the only real trade that can compare to Price at all was way back in 2004, when the Kansas City Royals traded Carlos Beltran to the Houston Astros. It is also worth noting that all those trades involved position players–the two biggest trades involving pitchers included a washed-up Jose Lima and failed top prospect Rob Bell, both in 2001. The Scott Feldman deal did happen on July 2nd, and maybe a Price trade could happen around the same time, but there has been no recent example of an ace–or anything remotely close to one–being dealt in June. No matter the incentive to deal, it has always taken too much time for a deal to come together in June. This would certainly have been a more profound statement if I had written it earlier in the month, but there is still little reason to believe that the Rays can expedite the process of a David Price trade when so many general managers have failed to achieve similar results.
David Price is going to be traded, and he is going to be traded soon. However, don’t think that this coming start will be the last he makes as a Ray. Price still has at least two or three starts to go, and it will be up to Rays fans to appreciate them while they still can.