The confluence of the playoffs, the impending hot stove season, the Cubs making their way into the national news (managerial search), and an ill-timed and laughably lame Twitter meltdown have David Price front in center on the rumor mill. And, when it comes to a possible David Price trade, the Cubs have never been too far behind in the mentions.
That’s not to say there isn’t any legitimacy to the latest rumor from Joel Sherman, who discusses the likelihood of a Price trade this offseason, and mentions the Cubs as a top potential suitor. That information came from anonymous baseball executives, with whom Sherman spoke about what could happen if Price were made available this offseason. The Rangers were the top team mentioned, for what it’s worth.
I would just preach caution before getting too invested in Price as a possibility. In April, Price seemed to make a fair bit more sense for the Cubs than he does today. For one thing, he still had another couple MPH on his fastball, and hadn’t missed a chunk in the middle of the year with an elbow issue. For another thing, we were projecting the Cubs to be a fair bit better in 2014 than they now project to be (obviously that’s subject to change), making a Price addition (two years away from free agency) more sensible. Finally, the Cubs’ prospect situation has changed – mostly for the better. But while a package involving, for example, Javier Baez may have made sense in April, it makes a lot less sense today. The Cubs love Albert Almora, Kris Bryant cannot be traded until next Summer, and Jorge Soler has a relatively pricey contract by Tampa Bay standards. Getting the right package together today just seems trickier.
Price is 28, and has two years of arbitration left. He’ll likely make something in the $13 to $14 million range next year, and then something in the $15 to $17 million range in 2014. Those are cost-savings over his market rate, to be sure, but not a steep discount. The arm issue makes you a little nervous, as does the drop in velocity. Price was plenty effective this year, though, and he’s not old. Tip-top arms are tough to find, and they’re worth paying for when you get a shot to lock one down before they’re 30.
For my part, I’d not like to see the Cubs go hard after Price unless (1) they plan to put together a solid team on paper going into 2014 (otherwise, you waste one of the two Price years you acquired); and (2) there is a very strong understanding that Price will sign an extension (preferably, a non-insane one). If the Cubs can’t lock up Jeff Samardzija two years before free agency and decide to shop him, why would they trade to get Price and put themselves in the same situation with him?
We’ll see if more significant rumors pop up after the season ends. You can expect that the Rays will put out feelers on Price, however. So it will be discussed.