Free Agency isn't the only way to improve your team during the off-season. While Jacoby Ellsbury and Robinson Cano unsurprisingly dominate the discussions of the free agent market, the biggest player available by trade is David Price. Price is one of the best starting pitchers in baseball, won the Cy Young in 2012, is 28 years old and has two years of team control left before he hits Free Agency himself. Due to the way the Rays have to run their team, they will not be able to afford to extend him and will almost certainly be trading him for a haul of young talent while he's at what might be the peak of his value, much as they did with James Shields last year. Acquiring David Price will make any team better--even significantly so--but the cost in prospects (and the money to sign him long term) will be extremely high.
I was going to write about what kind of packages I thought the Rays might be able to extract from other teams for Price, but upon doing some research I came across an excellent series of articles by Daniel Russell over at DRaysBay, a truly wonderful Rays-focused blog. Realizing that there was no way I could top that, I thought I'd simply link those of you reading here to that series. What makes his approach unique is that he doesn't simply suggest what he thinks teams might offer the Rays. That's been done plenty of times across all corners of the internet during trade seasons and often suffers from the fact that fans naturally often overvalue their own assets while undervaluing other teams. Instead, Daniel reaches out to authors of other team-specific blogs at SB Nation and discusses possible trades with them, complete with offers and counter-offers. It's a refreshing and informative approach and one that I'd like to see used more often. So, without further ado, here's the series:
Gauging Interest In David Price, Part 1 (Mariners, Cubs, Rangers)
Part 2 (Twins, Braves, Diamondbacks)
Part 3 (Pirates, Angels)
Part 4 (Indians, Reds)
Part 5 (Mets, Phillies, Nationals)
Part 6 (Dodgers, Cardinals, Astros)
Part 7 (Giants, Marlins, Padres, Brewers, Rockies, White Sox, Royals, Tigers, Athletics)
Seriously, you all should read the entire series. It's some fantastic work. My biggest take away from it is just how hard it probably is for real GMs to make trades. Even in these hypothetical talks, rarely did the two sides come to any semblance of agreement, since everyone wanted to 'win' the trade. Russell clearly wanted a wealth of talent for Price and those he spoke to wanted to get Price while giving up as little as possible. The next time I find myself muttering about how I'd like to see the Red Sox trade for Giancarlo Stanton, I'm going to think back to these articles.