David Price is quite a pitcher. He’s coming off an incredible 2012 season that saw him win the AL Cy Young Award as he went 20-5 with a 2.56 ERA and a 205-59 strikeout to walk ratio in 31 starts and 311 innings pitched. And armed with a blisterring mid-90’s fastball and a trio of quality secondary pitches in his curveball, cutter, and changeup, Price has the ability to be a true ace in the major leagues for years to come. The pressing question right now is whether that future will be coming in Tampa Bay beyond 2013. One thing that has not been debated is that should the Rays trade Price, the return they would get for would be enormous. And one team that might give the Rays that enormous return could be the Texas Rangers, who have top prospects like Jurickson Profar and Mike Olt that the Rays would certainly be interested in. But according to ESPN’s Keith Law, the Rays might actually have to deal the Rangers more than Price if they wanted to pry Profar from Texas.
"“Maybe you put Profar in a deal and get Price plus something else because you’re trading six years for three years.”"
Law admits that he doubts that a deal like that would possibly happen because Price’s “perceived value” is much higher than Profar’s “perceived value” and “perceived value is that reason why a lot of trades materialize. But in Law’s opinion, Profar’s “true value” is actually higher than Price between his abilities and the fact that he has six more years under team control as opposed to Price’s three. Law does make a good point about “perceived value” and how it plays a role in trades. But does Profar really have more value than Price at this point in his career? Not a chance.
Jurickson Profar turns just 20 next month and has already made the major leagues, appearing in 9 regular season games for the Rangers and even successfully pinch-hitting in their one-game Wild Card playoff versus the Orioles. Before he cracked the Rangers’ MLB roster, he had an incredible season at Double-A, managing a .281/.368/.452 line with 26 doubles, 7 triples, 14 homers, 62 RBI, 16 of 20 stolen bases, and a 79-66 strikeout to walk ratio in 126 games and 562 plate appearances. Profar has a chance to be one of the best players in baseball someday thanks to true 5-tool ability: outstanding bat speed, patience, pitch recognition, the power potential to hit 30 home runs someday, well above-average speed, and great defense in terms of both glove and arm at shortstop or wherever the Rangers decide to put him on the diamond. But before he gets there, he has an extremely long way to go and there’s no guarantee of anything. Profar has a grand total of 18 plate appearances above Double-A and much of his potential is based of the fact that he’s so young and only 6’0″, 165 with continued room to muscle up and add more power. We can’t possibly know what’s going to happen. He sounds so good- how could he possibly fall apart? Even moving past the concerns for any prospect like injuries and struggles to adjust to major league pitching, Profar has confronted issues of trying too hard to hit the ball in the air, and despite his great strike zone awareness for such a young player, he has been too aggressive on pitchers within the zone, leading to too much weak contact for a player with his bat speed. That doesn’t by any means indicate that Profar isn’t going to be a very good player in the major leagues and quite possibly a superstar, but there’s certainly quite a bit of risk for him and he’s no sure thing at all. How in the world is a player like that worth more than David Price?
At the end of the day, the Rays would love to get Jurickson Profar if and when they trade David Price. But are they going to even consider for a second trading Price for Profar? Absolutely not. We had this same discussion relentlessly regarding Wil Myers, and while Profar is better than Myers, Price is also quite a bit better than James Shields and Price would almost certainly yield Profar and more from the Rangers should a trade between the Rays and Rangers come together. This is all hypothetical for right now- the Rays are set to keep Price for 2013- but if the Rays decide to trade Price next offseason, get ready for a highly-contested debate surrounding Profar’s value and a final trade that elicits as much controversy as any in baseball history.