Will the Rays Trade David Price to the Los Angeles Dodgers?

By Peter M. Gordon

Despite having the highest payroll in baseball at a little over $235 million, the Los Angeles Dodgers currently sit in second place in the NL West.  They are looking for another piece or two to give their team the boost they need to catch the San Francisco Giants, and David Price is a desirable target. The Dodgers talked to the Rays about a deal for Price during the off season, but they decided the Rays’ asking price was too high. After the way their season has started, however, might the Dodgers reconsider?

Yesterday in his article “Dodgers Could be Ready to do a Price Check” LA Times reporter Bill Shaiken reported that the Dodgers had asked about Price. The Dodgers already have a strong rotation, but adding Price would make it even stronger. The Dodgers have spent record amounts on players to get to the World Series, so the thinking is they would happily absorb Price’s salary as well. Trading for Price now would enable the Dodgers to benefit from Price’s pitching for the 2014 stretch drive and the 2015 season. Price becomes a free agent after 2015- but the Dodgers also have the funds to potentially extend him.

But what the Dodgers could offer the Rays in return may not be enough. The Rays don’t want high-priced, older outfielders like Matt Kemp or Andre Ethier, who are making over 21 million and 15 million, respectively, for 2014. The Dodgers won’t trade their best player,  Yasiel Puig. The Dodgers might be willing to send Carl Crawford back to Tampa, but the Rays wouldn’t take him unless the Dodgers paid his $20 million salary. To acquire Price, the Dodgers would have to dip into their minor league system, and that may not be something that they’re comfortable doing.

The Dodgers do have two players going to the Futures Game, pitcher Julio Urias and shortstop Corey Seager. Seager, a 6’4″ shortstop, is hitting .379 at high A Ball. However, trading these prospects, even for Price, would be tough, since doing so would further deplete a minor league system already starving for prospects. The Dodgers’ high payroll means the team don’t have much of the thing the Rays want most – promising players at a reasonable cost – and it would be tough for them to give up their few prospects who are cost-controlled.

Buster Olney reported on ESPN.com that Rays management said they’re willing to move David Price “right now.” Certainly Price’s trade value will not be higher if the Rays wait until the offseason. I’m sure Andrew Friedman is fileding phone calls from interested teams and making his own inquiries, while the sabermetricians in the Rays’ basement are crunching numbers to see which offer will provide the most value. At this point, I would say the Dodgers’ chances of landing Price are slim, since they don’t have a lot to offer that the Rays want. Nevertheless, if the Dodgers put their young prospects on the table, the Rays will listen. And if that’s the best offer the Rays have, they just might do the deal.