Periodically, folks mention that maybe the Chicago Cubs should be in on someone like David Price if he’s traded this Summer. And, at each instance, I say the same thing: absolute poppycock.
When he’s dealt this year, Price’s primary value as a trade asset is going to be has ability to affect two playoff races, this and next year. Of those two playoff races, the proportion of his trade value tied to each is not equivalent. Why? The team acquiring him now already knows it is in the playoff hunt (and it might not be at this point next year). Playoff races, and playoff games, are enormously, disproportionately valuable to organizations. That means every incremental win a playoff-caliber team can pick up in July/August/September is extraordinarily valuable.
So, vis a vis Price and the Cubs, you should quickly see why it is ludicrous to suggest that the Cubs trade for Price now – the biggest chunk of the purchase price would be tied to his value this year, when he would actually provide the Cubs little value (because, their great recent stretch notwithstanding, they aren’t going to be in a playoff race). So the Cubs would be paying far, far more, relatively-speaking, than the other teams looking to acquire Price right now. And that is all to say nothing of paying him $7 or so million this year to pitch on a team near the bottom of the standings (and, let’s be honest, the impact he could have on the Cubs’ “ability” to finish in the bottom ten).
Trading for David Price, right now, makes no sense for the Chicago Cubs
… but that doesn’t necessarily mean the Cubs will never trade for David Price. Dave Cameron writes about the possibility that Price could be traded this Summer as a rental, and then traded again next offseason.
When you consider the teams that might most want to pick up a starter this year – among them the Orioles, the Blue Jays, the Royals – you see a group of teams that might not be crazy about also being on the hook for the $18 to $20 million Price will make in 2015 (side note: that’s why they should prefer to trade for Jeff Samardzija). If one of those smaller market teams picks up Price, they might very well like to then shop him in the offseason – recouping some of the prospect cost they gave up to get him, and unburdening payroll in the process.
To be QUITE clear, I’m not saying the Cubs are a likely trade partner for that team on David Price. But if the Cubs head into the offseason feeling like they can be competitive in 2015 if they just added a couple pieces like Price and a big bat (absolutely plausible at this point), they’ll certainly have the money and the prospect depth to acquire him. Given the expected salary and only one year of control, I’m also not sure the acquisition price would be as exorbitant as we might think. Further, the financial commitment might be attractive to the Cubs, who should have plenty of money to spend, but might prefer one very pricey year of David Price to six or seven very pricey years of, say, Max Scherzer.
From there, maybe the Cubs try to extend Price, or maybe they let him him walk and pick up a draft pick (or maybe the plan doesn’t work out, and the Cubs deal him at the deadline). Who knows. I’m not going to speculate that far – I’m just pointing out the scenario where it makes sense for the Cubs to go after Price, since folks have been wanting that for what seems like years.
So, there you go. Let your mind run wild about the possibilities. I don’t think it’s all that crazy.