Especially once the Los Angeles Dodgers dropped out of consideration, it was all but a foregone conclusion that the New York Yankees would re-sign Robinson Cano. He was set to be the next Yankee great, and while his contract demands would be exorbitant, him and the Yankees would inevitably figure something out. Then Cano and the Yankees made little progress in talks and the Yankees shocked everyone by signing outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury to a seven-year, $153 million deal. And with the state of negotiations between Cano and the Yankees descending into chaos, in came the Seattle Mariners and quite possibly topped the Yankees’ highest offer. The Mariners now think there is a really chance they can land Cano. But their dreams don’t stop there: if Cano joins their franchise, they also think they can land David Price.
Entering the offseason, everyone knew David Price was attainable–but the cost was going to be steep. Price was only doing to be dealt if a team was willing to deal one of the best prospects in baseball and more. Last offseason, the Kansas City Royals dealt top prospect Wil Myers believing that James Shields could change their franchise. Who was going to be the team desperate enough to land Price that giving up even more than the Rays received for Shields would be a move they would actually make? We have our answer now. Jeff Passan reports that not only are the Mariners gunning for Price, but they are willing to give up top pitching prospect Taijuan Walker to facilitate a deal.
In recent years, the Rays have seen plenty of incredible pitching prospects rise up through their system. Taijuan Walker is right up there with all of them. Walker throws consistently in the mid-90’s with his fastball with devastating late bite that makes it allergic to contact. His changeup has made drastic strides, emerging as a swing-and-miss pitch to lefties and possibly emerging as a pitch that could be effective to same-side hitters as well–there is not a doubt in the world that the Rays would have Walker do just that if he joined their team. Walker completes his arsenal with a cutter and a curveball that remain inconsistent but tantalize with their potential as well. By a strange twist of fate, Walker and Price have the exact same arsenal: fastball, changeup, cutter, and curveball. From there, the similarities end–Walker is a righty while Price is a lefty, and Walker has issues at times with control while Price paints the strike zone with ease. But even if Walker is decidedly not another Price, his ace potential is exactly what the Rays are looking for in a Price deal.
After Walker, Passan suggests that the Mariners could part with one of their rookie middle infielders from 2013: Nick Franklin or Brad Miller. Franklin didn’t blow anyone away in his rookie season but continues to stand out for his plate discipline and power at the second base position. Miller, meanwhile, has done nothing but hit as a professional and continued that into the big leagues in 2013, showcasing a strong gap-to-gap approach and solid defense at shortstop. With Cano a second baseman and Franklin considered questionable defensively at shortstop, it would seem more than likely that Franklin is the one to go. If the Mariners add in one of their talented arms from the lower minors–Luiz Gohara, Victor Sanchez, or Edwin Diaz–along with a throw-in or two, that could be enough right there. The Mariners always had the prospects to blow the Rays away, but the motivation was not necessarily there. Now the Mariners are going for it, and if they sign Cano, all the indications are that they will give the Rays an offer they can’t refuse.
Is this happening or are we getting way too far ahead of ourselves? That may be in the hands of Robinson Cano. Will he truly leave New York to join the Mariners? Will the Yankees swoop in with a last-second offer if it seems like he will? So many questions remain unanswered, and we have no idea what any of this means. However, we can now say with a good amount of certainty something that we never would have thought before: Robinson Cano could very well join the Mariners, and if he does, it may be only a matter of time before David Price follows suit.