david priceNot that you were still holding out hope that the Chicago Cubs could get top pitching prospect Archie Bradley in a deal for Jeff Samardzija, but …

Arizona Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers tells Jerry Crasnick that the team is hoping Bradley becomes their David Price, rather than being traded to acquire a David Price. Crasnick intimates that the D-backs are strongly in the market for an elite starter, but says that putting up the cash for someone like Masahiro Tanaka might not be possible. Instead, if they opt to go the trade route, their options might limited to Price and Samardzija.

If Price and Samardzija are indeed the top two options on the trade market, it’s actually possible that Samardzija will have more suitors. Which pitcher would you rather have for the 2014 and 2015 seasons, all things equal? It’s Price, no doubt. He’s been consistently good for much longer, and his performance has simply been much better than Samardzija’s.

But consider that Samardzija has had no arm troubles (Price had a brief arm issue last year), Samardzija has a bigger arm (Price has lost significant velocity in the last two years), and Samardzija will cost a hell of a lot less money over the next two years (Samardzija is projected for about $5 million in arbitration this year, and maybe $8 million in 2015; Price is projected for about $13 million this year, and maybe $17 million in 2015). In other words, all thingsĀ aren’tĀ equal. I’m not going to do it, but I could make a fairly convincing argument that Samardzija is the better trade target of the two.

That is not to say, however, that Samardzija would command a steeper price. But if the Diamondbacks are feeling tight in the pocketbook, and if they like Samardzija’s upside, they might prefer to come hard for Samardzija, rather than Price. The Cubs can also dangle Nate Schierholtz, who would provide the corner outfield power Arizona is seeking, and also do so at an inexpensive payroll figure. All in all, the Cubs would seem a better trading partner for the Diamondbacks than the Rays with Price.

Just don’t get your hopes up for Bradley.

(Aside: Remember when industry insiders were saying the Cubs were the favorites to land David Price in trade back in February? Yeah, that was a little silly. It seems now that the Cubs are not going to be in the market for Price, as he makes quite a bit less sense for them than it seemed like he might a year ago. Let that be a reminder that the best laid plans can go awry for any number of reasons, especially when stretched across a long enough time horizon. I mean that both in good and bad ways.)


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