The Tampa Bay Rays have been one of the hottest teams in baseball lately, going 10-2 in their past 12 games. They are now just 8.0 games out of first place in the AL East- a vast improvement from being 15.0 games out of first on June 10th. Just two or three weeks ago, the Rays were way out of the playoff race and had shown few signs of any life. Because of that, it seemed that a David Price trade was inevitable. But now that the Rays are winning, the club has a huge dilemma-whether to trade Price or not.
There is no doubt that the Rays are a better team with Price than without. His ERA is a decent 3.48, but it is that high because of a slow start. His 159 strikeouts and 139.1 innings pitched lead Major League Baseball, and he has also walked just 20 batters. Over his last 8 starts Price has been incredible, putting up a 2.31 ERA while never allowing more than 3 runs and never lasting less than 7.0 innings. Theoretically the Rays could compete without Price on the roster, but it would significantly hurt their chances, especially with them still far back in the standings. If the Rays keep their winning ways going over the next couple of weeks, then they could hold on to Price at the deadline in hopes that hey keep climbing back into contention.
On the other hand, the Rays have to be able to bring in young talent to compete year in and year out. Trades like the Matt Garza- Chicago Cubs deal and James Shields- Kansas City Royals deal have netted the Rays cheap, controllable players like Chris Archer, Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, Brandon Guyer, and more. A Price trade figures to at least bring back a similar return to those deals, if not a greater one. Andrew Friedman even acknowledged to the New York Times that the Rays are a good team because they’ve traded away good players and gotten even better returns. Given the Rays small payroll, they have to be able to bring in cheap, young players via trade, and trading Price will do just that.
If the Rays are hovering around contention when the trade deadline rolls around, elect to hold on to Price, and then don’t end up making the playoffs, then they will have passed up an opportunity to add young talent. Price can still be traded this upcoming offseason, but he won’t bring back the same type of return that he would at this year’s deadline. That said, the Rays are getting back into contention, and if that continues then they will need Price for the rest of the season. This dilemma could solve itself in the next couple of weeks if the Rays return to their early season struggles. However if the next couple of weeks don’t bring some clarity, the Tampa Bay Rays and Andrew Friedman will have to make a tough decision on whether to trade Price or whether to retain him for the rest of the season.