The Rays, David Price, And A L.A. Story
David Price To The Dodgers Is Just The Beginning
The Tampa Bay Rays are mired in last place and have had the worst record in baseball for 21 days. They hold the biggest trade chip in baseball in lefty David Price who has 1.5 years left before he is able to test the free agent waters. He will be dealt probably sooner than later and the most logical destination is the West Coast.
There has been some talk that Price could be dealt in the division but only if the opposing team would pay a premium. There has been talk that a team that might not be able to afford Price in 2015 (Indians, Athletics, etc.) could still deal for him for the rest of 2014 and shop him this winter. The latter situation probably doesn’t appeal to the Rays as the team could trade Price back into the AL East which would undermine the whole pay a premium concept.
The Rays will most likely be looking to send Price to a National League team that can afford to keep him for at least the next year and a half, has a farm system that can put together a package of prospects that make all other arguments moot, and hopefully sign him to a long term extension so that he remains out of the American League in the future.
Two teams that meet the criteria are the St. Louis Cardinals and the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Cardinals have a pair of young players with high upside in outfielder Oscar Taveras and reliever (but future starter) Carlos Martinez that could be part of a deal but it’s the Dodgers who meet the Rays criteria the most.
Joc Pederson (22 years old) is playing centerfield for the Dodgers Triple-A affiliate Albuquerque Isotopes where he is hitting .320/.438/.570 with 17 home runs and 17 stolen bases.
Zach Lee (22 years old) also is on the Isotopes and is 4-5 with a 4.45 ERA with 6.2 strikeouts per nine innings and 2.7 walks per nine innings.
Corey Seager (20 years old) is a left handed hitting shortstop playing for the Dodgers High-A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes where he is hitting .353/.405/.613 with 13 home runs.
Julio Urias (17 years old [18 on August 12th]) is a young phenom found in Mexico. He is pitching for the Quakes and according to Baseball-Reference.com he is 6.2 years younger than the average age of a pitcher in his league. He hasn’t been over matched in his 14 appearances (11 starts) posting a 1-1 record with a 3.35 ERA striking out 9.5 batters per nine innings while walking 4.5 batters per nine innings.
The Dodgers certainly have the prospects to acquire David Price and with the ludicrous television contract and other revenue streams they certainly can afford Price in 2015 and beyond.
Most likely the Dodgers would be most comfortable replacing Dan Haren in their rotation. It’s a good bet their focus would be more on adding Price to join Kershaw and Greinke at the top of the rotation than who they replaced.
The most logical move would be to pull another team that needs starting pitching and can provide a prospect or two to the Dodgers for Haren to soften the blow of the cost of obtaining Price.
There are a lot of teams that could enter the trade as a third team – the Yankees, Indians, Blue Jays, Orioles, and Mariners just to name a few but one team makes more sense than others and that is the Los Angeles Angels.
The Angels are very familiar with Haren as he pitched there from 2010 through 2012 posting a 33-27 record with a 3.52 ERA. The Angels have the financial ability to take on the rest of his 2014 salary ($10MM).
His contract also includes a $10MM club option that switches to a player option if he throws 180 innings in 2014. If he is traded the option becomes $11MM if he reaches the 180-inning threshold. If he pitches well and makes his 180-innings he may opt out of his deal and test the free agent waters and if he pitches poorly and reaches the 180-inning threshold the Angels could afford to have him back in 2015.
The Angels have been a surprise in the AL West currently with a record of 41-33 and are five games behind the Oakland Athletics in the AL West but lead in the Wild Card.
Haren would join Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, and Garrett Richards in the Angels rotation while Matt Shoemaker, Hector Santiago, and Tyler Skaggs (currently injured) vie for the remaining spot. With Haren in the fold the Angels could keep Wade LeBlanc in the bullpen and possibly use Santiago as the second lefty.
The chain reaction of David Price to the Dodgers and Dan Haren to the Dodgers is just the opening chapter of a story. Over the winter the next chapter for the Dodgers will be signing David Price’s close friend and former teammate James Shields who is from Santa Clarita a city just north of Los Angeles.
Predicting trades is almost always impossible to do but predicting three teams is nearly impossible Despite the odds of the 3-team deal between the Rays, Angels, and Dodgers actually happening it certainly fills three teams desires.