David Price Rumors

NL Notes: Braves, Cubs, Phillies, Pirates, Mets

After the departures of Brian McCann and Tim Hudson, the Braves have needs, and may not have much money available to meet them, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes in a long essay about what to expect from the Braves in the coming weeks. They could try to trade for a pitcher like Jeff Samardzija, John Lackey or Kyle Lohse, or they could sign Bartolo Colon. Colon is an appealing option for the Braves, O'Brien says, because his age makes him unlikely to receive a huge contract. The Braves also hope to trade Dan Uggla to clear salary. Here are more notes from around the National League.

  • Cuban shortstop Erisbel Barbaro Arruebarruena will put on a showcase for clubs this weekend and the Mets will be among the teams in attendance, sources tell Andy Martino of the New York Post.  The 23-year-old, ranked as the tenth-best prospect in the World Baseball Classic not signed to an MLB club by Baseball America, defected from Cuba in November.
  • It appears the Cubs will cede their top pick in the upcoming Rule 5 Draft to resolve a dispute involving former Rule 5 pick Lendy Castillo, Carrie Muskat of MLB.com reports. The Cubs picked Castillo from the Phillies in 2011, and Castillo missed 91 days of the following season due to injury, then spent the entire 2013 season in the minors. In case of injury, players selected in the Rule 5 Draft must stick on their new teams' active rosters for at least 90 days. The Phillies will receive the Cubs' pick after they filed a grievance regarding Castillo. The Cubs don't plan to select a player this year anyway. The Rule 5 Draft will be held next Thursday.
  • A recent report listed a number of teams as possible landing spots for David Price, but it would be easy to overpay for Price, FanGraphs' Dave Cameron argues. Price is a great pitcher, but he's only under control for two more years, and will cost a total of about $30MM for those two seasons. Cameron's back-of-the-envelope math suggests Pirates top prospect Gregory Polanco, for example, could be worth about $91MM of surplus value over his six cost-controlled seasons, about three times as valuable as Price. The Royals' trade of Wil Myers and other youngsters for James Shields and Wade Davis was an overpay and should not determine the market for Price, Cameron argues.

Zach Links contributed to this post.


Mariners Could Make Move To Acquire David Price

The Mariners, Dodgers, Angels, Pirates, Rangers, Diamondbacks and Blue Jays all have interest in David Price and believe they could put together a strong enough package to convince the Rays to deal him, Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan writes. The Mariners would be especially interested in Price if they also acquire Robinson Cano, and they might be willing to include Taijuan Walker to make a deal happen, Passan reports. Earlier today, Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik told the Tacoma News Tribune's Bob Dutton, "[A]lways have felt there would be a time where we have to augment this club. I think we’re at that time" (Twitter link).

Price has two years remaining before free agency, and MLBTR projects he'll make $13.1MM in the arbitration process this winter. The Rays aren't in a position where they must trade him, Passan points out, so they won't be desperate in negotiations. They could target a big-league-ready pitcher to step into Price's place in their rotation, Passan reports, and one would think that Walker, one of baseball's top young starters, would fit the bill. Walker, 21, posted a 2.93 ERA with 10.2 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 in 141 1/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A in 2013 before making three starts at the big-league level.


D-Backs Looking To Trade Market For Ace, Power Bats

3:30pm: The Diamondbacks may also be looking to the trade market for power bats, according to a recent series of tweets from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Rosenthal reports that the D-Backs and A's recently discussed a trade that would send Yoenis Cespedes to Arizona in exchange for Tyler Skaggs, A.J. Pollock and others. Both sides have cooled on the idea and backed off the trade at this time, however, and the A's would only trade Cespedes for a "monster" return, according to Rosenthal. Still, as he points out, it serves as an example that the Diamondbacks will be aggressive and creative in their search for a power bat in the outfield.

1:54pm: The Diamondbacks are motivated to swing a trade for an ace-caliber pitcher, reports ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. Crasnick spoke with Arizona GM Kevin Towers, president/CEO Derrick Hall and owner Ken Kendrick in an excellent, in-depth breakdown of the situation. While Towers was quick to say that no player is untouchable, he sounded loath to part with prized pitching prospect Archie Bradley, a consensus Top 10 MLB prospect. Asked about the possiblity of trading Bradley, he replied:

"I don't see that happening. Not that anybody is untouchable, but we're hoping he's our David Price, and we can control him [for several years]. He's gonna get every opportunity to crack our rotation this spring … He's not looking to make our rotation as the fifth guy — he's looking to make it as the ace."

Hall pointed to the Diamondbacks' success in 2011 when Ian Kennedy finished fourth in the Cy Young race, noting how impactful having a "No. 1 type starter" was to that year's team. Hall expects activity to pick up: "We're getting a lot of calls and making a lot of calls, and we can see the interest is there. We're probably a good fit for a lot of clubs."

In addition to enviable pitching depth, the Diamondbacks also have several intriguing shortstops in the form of Didi Gregorius, Chris Owings and Nick Ahmed. Martin Prado's presence means that Arizona could also be inclined to include Matt Davidson in potential trades, and the presence of both A.J. Pollock could mean that Adam Eaton is attainable as well, notes Crasnick.

Crasnick lists familiar trade targets Price and Jeff Samardzija for the Diamondbacks, though Price has had multiple ace-caliber seasons while Samardzija has more so flashed ace potential. Crasnick adds that Tyler Skaggs and Randall Delgado, each of whom is still younger than 24, may be more likely to be included in potential trades.

The Diamondbacks are also looking to add an impact bat to the outfield, though that addition may be more likely to come via free agency, reports Crasnick. Big-name items like Nelson Cruz and Curtis Granderson may not fit into Arizona's payroll, which could lead to pursuits of names like Corey Hart and Michael Morse, though there are many who don't consider either one to be capable of handling the outfield at this point.



Cafardo On Samardzija, Price, Kemp, Pierzynski

The Red Sox won a World Series last year thanks to their daring offseason gameplan.  Will they break away from those habits going forward?  “So far, I don’t think it’s been all that different,” Lucchino told Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. “We still value the draft picks enormously and our behavior has shown that we still prefer shorter- to longer-term contracts and a presumption against really long-term contracts. A lot of things we did last year proved to be successful at least in the short term, and I think we’ll behave accordingly going forward.”  Here's more from today's column..

  • Trade talks for Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija have been going on and he could be on the move, but the Cubs’ preference would be to re-sign Samardzija and lock him in beyond 2015 and build their future around him, according to a major league source.  The Cubs will continue to work on both fronts until an extension is reached or an extension proves to be improbable.
  • The Rays, unsurprisingly, have gotten a number of inquiries on David Price.  However, none of them have been strong enough to make Tampa Bay give serious consideration to parting with him.
  • Moving Matt Kemp would require the Dodgers to eat some of the $128MM he's owed over the next six years.  If L.A. knocks that down to $80-90MM, the market is expected to open up.
  • The notion that A.J. Pierzynski is bad for a team is way off-base, according to one longtime teammate who said, “He may rub people the wrong way on other teams, but if he’s your teammate, he’s great. He’s tough, loyal, can call a game, and he can hit. I wish we had him back.
  • Daniel Bard's control issues have followed him into winter ball.  The Cubs are expected to keep working with Bard, however, as they can give him a longer leash than the Red Sox did.  
  • Most teams, including the Brewers, want Corey Hart on a one-year deal.  However, because there are a number of teams in on him, he might get two.

Stark’s Latest: Cano, Price, Ruiz, Red Sox, Wilson, Nathan

For his latest Rumblings & Grumblings piece, ESPN's Jayson Stark spoke with several executives about the ultimate destination of Robinson Cano. One NL executive said: "I keep hearing there's no interest. I don't believe it." Stark agrees and hypothesizes that the lack of a market for Cano has been well-crafted by the Yankees leaking their own seven-year, $168MM offer in reaction to Cano's $310MM demand. One AL exec told Stark: "If you had a situation where everyone remained objective and everyone played it smart and you had teams that thought they could sign Robinson Cano for $120 million, you'd probably have five or six teams in on it. Then you'd set $120 million as the starting point and start the bidding, and see how much higher it gets." Stark feels that by starting the bar high, the Yankees have set the early market to a market of one. The same NL exec who didn't buy the lack of interest said that eventually teams who are chasing Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin-Soo Choo and Brian McCann will say, "Wait a second. Cano's a much better player than those guys," and change direction. Stark runs down some possible late-emerging suitors. Here's more from his excellent piece…

  • Stark reports an unknown wrinkle in the David Price trade saga. Price signed a one-year, $10.1125MM contract to avoid arbitration last January, but $5MM of that sum comes in the form of a signing bonus that is deferred to next year. While it was presented as a tax-related issue at the time, Stark notes that the Rays can use it as leverage in a trade, agreeing to take a slightly lesser package if the acquiring team pays that additional $5MM.
  • The Phillies upped the ante and guaranteed Carlos Ruiz a third year because they were convinced that he would sign with the Red Sox if they didn't. The Phils looked hard at alternatives but were highly uncomfortable with the prices on other targets. For that reason, other teams haven't been as critical of the deal, though they've all offered high praise to Ruiz's agent, Marc Kligman.
  • The Ruiz contract helps both McCann and particularly Jarrod Saltalamacchia, agents and an AL executive told Stark. Stark has heard that one reason the Red Sox were so interested in Ruiz was that they don't want to commit more than two years to a catcher, suggesting that Saltalamacchia is a goner in Boston.
  • The Tigers' search for a closer has begun to lean more in favor of Brian Wilson than Joe Nathan, but Wilson's agent, Dan Lozano, may want to wait out the market, which isn't GM Dave Dombrowski's style, Stark points out.
  • Bartolo Colon and agent Adam Katz aren't rushing into one-year contracts as they wait to see if someone will tack on a second guaranteed year in the wake of Tim Hudson's two-year, $23MM deal.

AL East Notes: Drew, Ellsbury, Price, Blue Jays

Ben Cherington entered last year's offseason under pressure to improve his last-place team, but the Red Sox general manager is blessed with several options this winter, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes.  The Sox have the payroll space to make a splash in free agency, use some of their prospects or excess starting pitchers to make a trade or even "implement a very conservative offseason plan"  since the team's core is already strong.  Here is some more from around the AL East…


Arbitration Breakdown: David Price

Over the next few months, I will be discussing some of the higher profile upcoming arbitration cases. I will rely partly on my arbitration model developed exclusively for MLB Trade Rumors, but will also break out some interesting comparables and determine where the model might be wrong.

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After earning $10.1125MM this past season, David Price already seems to be pretty close to uncharted territory for his third year of arbitration eligibility. Given his career accomplishments, including a Cy Young Award, three All-Star appearances, a 71-39 record in the toughest division in baseball, as well as a 3.19 career ERA in 973 innings, Price seems to be a rare breed.

However, one of the most glaring results that I noticed when putting together my arbitration model for MLB Trade Rumors was that career statistics just don’t matter much for players who reach arbitration unless it’s their first time. Actually—that’s a bit of an overstatement. You always earn more if you have better career statistics before your platform year, but the only channel through which that happens is by affecting your current year salary. For Price, this is why his arbitration case will come down to the question of, “How much of a raise on top of his current $10.1125 million salary will he earn?” However, the size of his raise will have almost nothing to do with his statistics prior to 2013.

His 2013 statistics were decent, but not spectacular compared with previous years. He won only 10 games, his lowest total in four years, and he failed to reach 200 innings for the first time in the last four years as well. Innings and wins are the most important statistics in arbitration for starting pitchers, and since Price was atypically pedestrian this year with respect to these statistics, his raise will be pedestrian as well. We have him projected at $13.1MM for 2013 and looking through comparables, this seems very likely to be near where he lands, or slightly below it.

In my first search for players with similar statistics to Price’s 10-8 record, 3.33 ERA, and 186 2/3 platform year innings, I decided to look for pitchers with between 8-12 wins, ERAs between 3.00 and 3.70, and anywhere from 175-200 innings in my database. This database includes all pitchers in Price’s service class during the previous seven years. Three names emerged as possibilities, and they seem to sandwich Price’s salary pretty well.

Anibal Sanchez went to a hearing with the Marlins in 2012 to earn a $4.3MM raise. He had only gone 8-9 with a 3.67 ERA, but he did have a few more innings than Price at 196 1/3. Sanchez also had 202 strikeouts, far more than Price’s 151. However, the combination of a mediocre record with a good ERA does make him a reasonable comparable for Price. Of course, the fact that the case went to a hearing that the player won means that the actual salary might have been an overpay, due to the Marlins’ low counter-offer of a $2.6MM raise.

Wandy Rodriguez’s $2.5MM raise in 2011 as part of a three-year deal could be a floor as well, but he had actually been offered a $3MM raise when numbers were initially submitted (and he requested a $5.25MM raise). He went 11-12 during the previous year with a 3.60 ERA, while amassing 178 strikeouts in 195 innings. Again, his numbers are very similar to Price’s.

Matt Garza got a $3.55MM raise in 2012 after going 10-10 with a 3.32 ERA in 198 innings, along with 197 strikeouts. Except for the fact that Garza came in with a higher strikeout total, he looks like a very good comparable for Price. Citing Garza may be a good way for the Rays push down Price's raise below Garza’s.

Expanding the innings criteria a little more, we can see a potential comparable in Brandon McCarthy, also in 2012. He went 9-9 with a 3.32 ERA in 170 2/3 innings with just 123 strikeouts. He got a $3.275MM raise, which might be where Price should try to aim.  Another possibility for the Rays to throw into the mix is Kevin Correia, who got a $2.85MM raise in 2010. That came after he went 12-11 with a 3.91 ERA in 198 innings, with 142 strikeouts. Correia might serve as a decent option for the Rays to suggest as a comparable for Price, and may be enough to keep his raise under $3MM.

Regardless of which of these players looks like the best match for Price, it’s pretty clear that he is going to stay well within the range of a $3MM raise, which is right where the model predicts him. Although I think he may be able to push his raise up to $3.5MM, meaning that he will earn a little more than the model projects, he still represents a very knowable cost for any team looking to trade for him, which is probably where this is headed anyway.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


AL West Links: Mariners, Cruz, Napoli, Preller, Angels

"The expectation is" that the Mariners will target right-handed hitters such as Jhonny Peralta, Marlon Byrd, Mike Napoli and Nelson Cruz this offseason, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes.  The M's were particularly weak from the right side of the plate last season and will look to upgrade their right-handed bats, though really, Seattle will look to add hitting in any form.  Ken Rosenthal also noted that the Mariners were looking at right-handed hitters earlier this week, though he noted that the M's were in on Napoli.  Here's some more news from around the AL West…

  • Cruz declined his qualifying offer from the Rangers today and Adam Katz, Cruz's agent, told ESPN Dallas' Richard Durrett that he will continue to talk with the team about his client's possible return to Texas.  "We've always been engaged with the Rangers and continue to be," Katz said.  Durrett notes, the draft pick compensation tied to Cruz may hurt him in free agency, though MLBTR's Steve Adams recently predicted Cruz would find a three-year, $39MM deal on the open market.
  • Brian Grieper, Napoli's agent, is scheduled to meet with Rangers GM Jon Daniels during the GM Meetings, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets.  The Rangers are known to be looking for an upgrade at first base and Napoli, a former Ranger, would definitely fit the bill.
  • The Rangers have promoted A.J. Preller to assistant general manager, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports (Twitter link).  Preller had previously worked as the team's senior director of player personnel.  Texas also named Mike Daly, formerly their director of international scouting, as the franchise's new senior director of minor league operations.
  • The Angels have been opposed to going over the luxury tax limit under Arte Moreno's ownership and that's not likely to change, MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez writes.  Gonzalez also looks at Mark Trumbo trade rumors and a possible Mike Trout extension as part of his all-Angels mailbag.
  • In another item from Gonzalez, he speculates about what the Angels might have to give up (and what the Rays might want) in order to facilitate a David Price trade.
  • Earlier today on MLBTR we collected another set of AL West notes earlier today on MLBTR, a set of Astros-related notes and learned that the Angels signed Wade LeBlanc to a minor league deal.

Crasnick On Cano, Tanaka, Price, Ellsbury

ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick checked in with 21 general managers, assistant GMs, player personnel people, and scouts to get their take on some of the biggest storylines of the winter.  Here's a look at some of the highlights..

  • Almost everyone sees Robinson Cano staying put with 19 votes for the Yankees, one vote for the Dodgers, and one for the Cubs.  Nearly everyone sees Cano getting a seven- or eight-year deal worth $160MM-$230MM and no one expects him to approach the $300MM figure he was asking for from the Bombers earlier this year.  It should be noted that the GM that picked the Cubs said that he has no inside info to support that pick.
  • Nine execs see Masahiro Tanaka landing with the Dodgers while six chose the Yankees.  All but a handful of those surveyed think his payout will exceed the $60MM Yu Darvish got from the Rangers.  Tanaka is ranked as the top available pitcher by MLBTR's Tim Dierkes.
  • Seventeen of the 21 participants in the survey say David Price will get traded this winter.  Where will he land?  The Rangers got nine votes and the Dodgers got four nods with one vote each for the Nationals, Cardinals, Angels, and Astros.
  • Opinions were somewhat split on whether Jacoby Ellsbury or Shin-Soo fChoo will provide better value over the course of their next deals.  Twelve execs said Ellsbury, eight voted for Choo, and one GM declined to vote, saying that neither one will match what they get.
  • When asked to pick the best pitcher between Matt Garza, Ervin Santana, and Ubaldo Jimenez, ten execs chose Garza.  Most seemed to agree that the lack of quality starting pitching available will lead to all three being overpaid.  One American League scout seemed to like Jimenez on some level but was skeptical of him long-term.  "Ubaldo has the best chance to give you impact in the short term, but I am not buying him over the course of 3-4 years," the scout said.
  • When asked which former Yankees prospect has a better chance of succeeding elsewhere with a change of scenery, Phil Hughes was the overwhelming choice over Joba Chamberlain.
  • Crasnick asked the execs which aging pitcher had the most left in the tank between Roy Halladay, Hiroki Kuroda, and Tim Hudson.  Kuroda had the backing of 12 people surveyed, Hudson got eight votes, and Halladay had just one exec in his corner.  "Maybe the chances of [Halladay] coming back aren't real good if you look at it objectively," a scout said. "But if the guy wants to [keep pitching] and be successful, I wouldn't put it past him."

Starting Pitching Notes: Scherzer, Nats, Miller, Tanaka

The Max Scherzer trade rumors don't make much sense to Lynn Henning of the Detroit News, who argues that a Tigers club built to win in 2014 can't afford to move an ace pitcher unless another team makes "an incredibly loony price" in a trade.  The Washington Post's Adam Kilgore hears from a source who flatly denies that Scherzer will be dealt, and Kilgore wonders if the Tigers' alleged willingness to trade may hint at concerns about Scherzer's future performance.

Here are some items about notable arms that could be had via trade or free agency this offseason…

  • The Nationals have the minor league depth to acquire the likes of Scherzer or David Price, Kilgore writes.  It could be more likely that the Nats pursue a younger pitcher who is under control for more years, a la the team's deal for Gio Gonzalez
  • Shelby Miller is "an under-the-radar potential [trade] target," a baseball official opines to Kilgore.  Miller pitched just one postseason inning for the Cardinals due to concerns that he had a tired arm, though Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer notes that were rumors that Miller was really being saved for a possible trade this winter.  I'm not sure if I believe that theory; you'd think the Cards would've had all healthy arms on deck in pursuit of a World Series.
  • The Cubs are interested in Masahiro Tanaka, GM Jed Hoyer told David Kaplan on WGN Radio's The David Kaplan Show (Twitter link).  "He's going to help somebody and we will be in on him," Hoyer said.
  • Matt Sosnick, Josh Johnson's agent, says he has talked to "nearly every team" about his client, including the Rangers, ESPN Dallas' Richard Durrett reports.  The Rangers appeal to Johnson due to their winning ways because he lives in nearby Oklahoma, though since Sosnick says Johnson would prefer "at least a pitching-neutral ballpark," Rangers Ballpark might be a hindrance.
  • The Angels' signing of starter Chris Volstad could spell trouble for starters Jerome Williams and Tommy Hanson, writes Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles TImes. Volstad is cheap and young, and DiGiovanna says that the club may not see much difference between him and the club's pricier, pre-existing options. In his breakdown of the Halos' arbitration-eligible players, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes calls Hanson a definite non-tender candidate, and says Williams could also be shown the door.
  • ESPN's Jim Bowden speculates about six possible David Price trades (ESPN Insider subscription required).

MLBTR's Jeff Todd also contributed to this post