The Pittsburgh Pirates set their sights high on Thursday before the trade deadline by reportedly targeting David Price. Price would have been a huge upgrade to the Pirates rotation and would have been a true ace for the team. Unfortunately, Price was traded to the Detroit Tigers in a three-team trade that included the Seattle Mariners. But this is not where the story ends.
The return for Price was quite underwhelming. The Tigers received Price, the Mariners received Austin Jackson and the Tampa Bay Rays received Drew Smyly, Nick Franklin and shortstop prospect Willy Adams. Smyly is a back-of-the-rotation starting pitcher, Franklin is a disappointing middle infield prospect and Adams is an 18-year-old shortstop prospect. This is really astounding when the Boston Red Sox were able to get an all-star player in Yoenis Cespedes and a high draft pick for a worse pitcher with fewer years of control in Jon Lester.
One possible explanation for this came across after the trade deadline when Rays management was asked about the Pirates’ involvement with Price. The response was that he wanted to go to a proven winner. So in theory, the only reason that Price received such a little return for the Rays was because he handicapped who he would want to be traded to. This leads me to believe that the Rays had better offers.
The Rays could have said that other teams were involved but they traded Price for what they deemed the top offer. That is what most teams say when asked similar questions. But with the Rays implying that they would only trade Price to a proven winner, it makes me wonder if Price snubbed the Pirates.
The Pirates were rumored to be the front runners for Price most of the day, or they were at least rumored to be seriously involved. And if the Rays felt they were handicapped, as I assume they are implying, they must have thought they had a better offer from another team, possibly the Pirates since they were the team mentioned in the media’s question. And with Neal Huntington claiming he was close to making a deal today but couldn’t push it across the finish line, I’m inclined to believe he was talking about a deal for Price.
This is all speculation but it seems as if Price vetoed a possible deal to the Pirates, even though he doesn’t have that power, and forced the Rays’ hand in trading him to what he deemed a proven winner. Contending for four straight seasons and making the playoffs last season apparently does not make the Pirates a proven winner in Price’s mind and that seems to be why he is a Tiger. No one knows what really happened behind the scenes and on the phones but if you put all of the pieces together, it seems like the Pirates would have gotten Price if the Rays took the best deal available.