With the Masahiro Tanaka derby over, attention can now be turned back to the David Price market.
What market is left, that is, after his new deal.
The Tampa Bay Rays recently avoided arbitration with Price by signing him to a one-year, $14 million contract. But with a long-term deal in question, a trade still seems almost inevitable before the 2015 season.
One team that should undoubtedly have interest is the Chicago Cubs after losing out on Tanaka and unlikely to commit money to Ervin Santana or Ubaldo Jimenez.
Assuming the brass in Chicago has interest in Price beyond this season, it comes down to what would the Cubs have to part with and be willing to part with in order to land him.
From a purely philosophical standpoint, the Rays are going to want prospects, and good ones at that, who can be turned around in the next few years as key big league players.
Just look at their last big trades of pitchers James Shields and Matt Garza.
Shields has been just as good if not better than Price over the last three seasons. He was dealt with Wade Davis to the Kansas City Royals for top prospect Wil Myers and a top-30 prospect in pitcher Jake Odorizzi. Myers was the American League Rookie of the Year in 2013 and Odorizzi appeared on the big club.
Garza was traded to the Cubs during the Jim Hendry era for the organization’s top pitching prospect Chris Archer, followed by Robinson Chirinos, Hak-Ju Lee and Sam Fuld. Only Lee has yet to appear at the Major League level and Archer will challenge for a rotation spot in 2014.
So what price is right for Price?
Judging from the Shields trade, the Rays will want a two-man combination of Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Albert Almora and Jorge Soler.
While Price is a valuable piece to any rotation, especially one lacking a proven ace and with the money to support one, losing two of their top prospects would severely hinder the Cubs’ rebuilding plan. Even if the deal can be made with one, the Cubs will have to think long and hard about the left-hander, who will turn 29 this season.
He has plenty of years left in him, but with what Chicago will have to give up, the deal won’t happen.
Price has been a three-range Wins Above Replacement Player every year since 2010 and has done a nice job progressing into a hurler with more control and a balanced repertoire, but the when it comes down to it, the price will likely be too high for the Cubs and their taste.