Rays Notes: David Price Named CY Finalist, Rumors on James Shields, Justin Upton to Rays?
By Robbie Knopf
David Price is coming off a remarkable 2012 in which he led the American League with 20 wins and a 2.56 ERA. And as expected, he has been named a finalist for the AL Cy Young, with the other two finalists being Justin Verlander and Jered Weaver. Price has a good of a chance as anyone to win the award and hopefully he can become the first Rays pitcher to win the Cy Young. Congrats to Price, and it will be exciting to see what happens in the voting results next week.
We’ve heard quite a bit about the rumor that the Los Angeles Dodgers have made James Shields their number one target this offseason. This past Saturday, we discussed what a trade that would send Shields to the Dodgers would look like. Now, the Dodgers may have changed their minds. Talking to the Los Angeles Times, Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said that the Dodgers are “probably unlikely” to trade for a starting pitcher this offseason and are more likely to go through the free agent market to fill their pitching needs.
"Of the pitching market in general, Colletti said, “It’s not massive. It’s probably unlikely trade-wise. There are probably three or four different pitchers we have interest in. We’ll see. It’s still fairly early in the process. But pitching is most of our concentration right now.”"
Reading that quote, Colletti told the Los Angeles Times absolutely nothing. They probably won’t trade for a pitcher, but they’re interested in three or four guys and things may change later in the process to make a trade materialize. Everything is still up in the air and Colletti and the Dodgers are not sure what will happen yet. Couldn’t the general manager of any team in baseball say the exact same thing? Colletti is simply saying a generic answer here.Why would Colletti possibly give away his plans this offseason to begin with? If the Rays decide to trade James Shields this offseason, Los Angeles is still a likely destination. Don’t let this quote lead you to think otherwise.
In actual sketchy trade news, Joel Sherman of the New York Post sent out a couple of interesting tweets over the past 24 hours.
In theory, the Rays would definitely have some interest in Justin Upton because, as Sherman alludes to, the Rays need help in the outfield and for their offense in general. We discussed a trade that would send Justin Upton to the Rays that was suggested by Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron on Sunday, but that trade package didn’t make any sense because the Rays were trading away David Price in the deal and because Upton is due 38.5 million dollars over the next three seasons, meaning the Rays would not save much money by trading Price for Upton. Could the Rays put together a trade package for Justin Upton that did not include Price and work out the money so they could hold onto both Upton and Price? It would seem that such a package would have to include James Shields, a pitcher who the Diamondbacks don’t want as much as Price but still a topflight pitcher who would improve their rotation significantly next season, but who would the Rays put in after that? The Rays could put together a package of say Shields, Chris Archer, and Derek Dietrich for Upton and a pitching prospect (like Trevor Bauer as Cameron suggested), with the Diamondbacks also paying some of the money left on Upton’s contract, but the Rays may not be able to compete with the Rangers if Texas headlines a deal with Elvis Andrus or Jurickson Profar. Justin Upton might end up in Tampa Bay next season, but don’t get your hopes up. A trade that would send Upton to the Rays is conceivable but unlikely to happen.
To close, Sherman’s New York Post colleague Ken Davidoff ranked the best general managers in baseball as this year’s GM Meetings began yesterday, and his choice for the top GM in baseball according to Davidoff was Rays Director of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman (the Rays don’t actually call him their GM). Davidoff praised Friedman for his ability to keep the Rays in contention despite one of the lowest payrolls in baseball, build through trades and the draft, and his ability to put together one of the best pitching staffs in baseball. Andrew Friedman has worked wonders for the Rays since becoming their GM. But the big question is what moves Friedman will make this offseason, and that is beginning now at the GM Meetings.