Trade Of David Price Lacks Punch But Includes Plenty Of Substance
The Tampa Bay Rays finally parted ways with their most valuable and prolific player in left hander David Price sending him to the Detroit Tigers as part of a three-team trade that included the Seattle Mariners.
The Tigers sent center fielder Austin Jackson to the Mariners who sent super utility switch hitter Nick Franklin to the Rays and the Tigers sent left handed pitcher Drew Smyly and 18-year old shortstop Willy Adames to St.Petersburg.
To the fan base the absence of a big bat or power arm instantly seemed to eliminate much of the equity that Vice President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman has built up in his prior wheeling and dealings.
The first argument made against the trade is that the Rays could have received just as much for Price over the winter. Fundamentally this may be true but it assumes that David Price finishes the season in good health.
Particularly this season we have seen many pitchers healthy one day only to walk off the mound with the team trainer and then read about a pending visit to Dr. James Andrews shortly followed up by a announcement of a surgery date.
An injury such as a torn UCL would have cost Price most of the 2015 season and there are a myriad of other injuries that could have resulted in not being ready for opening day or limiting his trade value over the winter.
In the worst case scenario the Rays would be forced to non-tender Price and would receive nothing in return. The other option would be to tender him a contract and either settle on a contract or go to arbitration which would pay him $18MM to $20MM and either wait until the trade deadline to deal him (and hope a second injury doesn’t occur).
The other most disturbing problem for the Rays fans is that the team didn’t get that high ceiling prospect in the deal. As noted earlier there is no high ceiling super prospect that will fill either a role as a future ace or a middle of the order power bat in the deal.
One has to first assume that other organizations were not going to give up the top prospect in the deal for David Price even with a season of control after this one. If any of these top prospects would have been included in a trade for Price I’m sure that team would have moved to the front of the pack.
The Rays have to make sure that a player that produces on the major league level comes back in this deal. They received that player in left handed starter Drew Smyly.
Smyly has made 17 starts for the Detroit Tigers this year posting a record of 6-9 with a 3.93 ERA striking out 20% of the batters he has faced while holding walks to 7.3% of the batters faced.
Joe Maddon will immediately plug him into the Rays starting rotation and he will be relied upon to win right away as the Rays continue their quest to reach the post season in 2014.
Smyly is arbitration eligible next season and is under team control through the 2018 season.
Nick Franklin is a switch hitting super utility infielder who entered the 2013 season ranked as Baseball America’s #79 ranked prospect, #72 by Baseball Prospectus, and #47 by MLB.com.
He appeared in 102 games with the Mariners as a 22 year old and batted .225/.303/.382 hitting 12 home runs and stealing six bases.
Franklin has less than one year of service time (126 days) and is not arbitration until 2016 at the earliest and is under team control until at least through the 2020 season.
With the emergence of Brad Miller at shortstop and the Mariners acquisition of Robinson Cano to man second base Franklin found himself without a spot on the major league roster and has spent the majority of the 2014 season playing for the Mariners Triple-A affiliate Tacoma Rainiers appearing in 75 games batting .294/.392/.455 with nine home runs and nine stolen bases.
Although he lost his spot on the Mariners he is still a prospect with enough upside to get excited about.
Willy Adames is an 18-year old shortstop (19 years old on September 2nd) who was playing for the Tigers Class A affiliate West Michigan Whitecaps where according to Baseball-Reference he is 3.5 years younger than the average age for position players.
He is batting .269/.346/.428 with 3o extra base hits (14 doubles, 12 triples, 4 homers) spanning 400 plate appearances. According to MLB.com Adames has moved all the way up to the Tigers #3 prospect and they believe he’ll be major league ready by 2017.
The Tampa Bay Rays achieved a known talent in Drew Smyly to bolster the starting rotation after the subtraction of David Price, added Nick Franklin as a higher ceiling middle infielder who the Rays hope develops into the next Ben Zobrist, and a young shortstop that has a strong batting eye and is in the midst of a breakout season. The trade lacks impact but does provide plenty of substance for a team that still has a desire to reach the post-season in 2014.