David Price Rumors
When the offseason began, many speculated that David Price's time with the Rays was coming to an end, as the ace southpaw would be traded at the height of his remaining value (two years of team control) and Tampa Bay could save money and add even more quality prospects to their system. The perception amongst rival executives now, however, is that Price will stay put through the coming season, ESPN's Buster Olney reports in his latest Insider-only column. "Ninety percent chance he stays," one rival executive said. "The [trade] market hasn't materialized." MLBTR readers seem to agree with that sentiment --- according to a recent poll, less than 31% of respondees feel that Price will be pitching elsewhere by Opening Day.
Here's some more news from around the AL East...
- Also from Olney's piece, some executives believe the Yankees and Dodgers will be the two final players in the race for Masahiro Tanaka. The Yankees have the greater need for pitching and perhaps even more pressure to sign Tanaka now that most of Alex Rodriguez's salary is off the books for 2014. The Dodgers, meanwhile, have shown they'll pay any price for a player they want, and are "more shameless in their bidding," according to some rival executives.
- If the Yankees can't sign Tanaka, they could again focus on staying under the $189MM luxury tax limit, WEEI.com's Rob Bradford speculates. Rodriguez's suspension could make the Yankees' payroll decision more difficult, as had A-Rod's 2014 salary still been fully owed, New York could've added Tanaka and other needed upgrades with the assumption that they'd be well over the $189MM threshold. If Tanaka signs elsewhere, however, Bradford isn't sure that the Yankees would be willing to pay another big luxury tax penalty for one of the other big free agent starters (Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana or Matt Garza) and they surely wouldn't go over $189MM just to sign a closer.
- If recent signees Delmon Young and Alexi Casilla make the Orioles' roster, it could hurt their chances of keeping Rule 5 Draft selection Michael Almanzar, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun writes. Almanzar was taken by the O's from the Red Sox in last month's draft, and if Almanzar isn't on the Major League roster for the entire 2014 season, Baltimore has to offer him back to Boston for $25K.
- CSNBaltimore.com's Rich Dubroff predicts 24 of the 25 players who he feels will make the Orioles' Opening Day roster. The 25th spot is being left open for a starting pitcher from outside the organization, as Dubroff feels the O's will add a starter between now and the start of Spring Training.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Mariners are weighing a number of high-profile additions, including Nelson Cruz, Masahiro Tanaka and David Price, but the team needs to persuade ownership before pressing forward on those moves. That information meshes with another Rosenthal report from last month which indicated that the Mariners may be nearing their payroll limit for 2014.
Seattle's signing of Robinson Cano this offseason was clearly an ownership-level decision, and GM Jack Zduriencik made a nice followup signing by inking Corey Hart to a one-year deal to further bolster the club's offense. Zduriencik also bought low on Logan Morrison in a trade with the Marlins, hoping that the 26-year-old can still deliver on some of his top prospect hype from a few years ago. However, save for the re-signing of the oft-injured Franklin Gutierrez, it's been quiet for the Mariners since that time.
Cano is an elite bat, but it's hard to figure that his addition plus a pair of question marks is enough to turn the organization around. Hart did not play a game in 2013, and Morrison has batted .236/.321/.387 over his past 667 plate appearances after slashing .259/.351/.460 in his first 812 big league PAs. Seattle's shot at contention is further complicated by the fact that they share a division with the highly competitive Rangers and A's. The Angels, who finished third in each of the past two seasons, have added to their rotation and should see improved production out of Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton as well.
The Diamondbacks consider Masahiro Tanaka to be their "No. 1 target" and are serious suitors for the Japanese ace, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports. Had Arizona not acquired Mark Trumbo, the Snakes were open to spending the $140MM that agent Scott Boras said it would've taken to sign Shin-Soo Choo, and Rosenthal notes that D'Backs management could instead invest that money (the $20MM posting fee and a $120MM contract) towards landing Tanaka. The D'Backs could have an extra source for information on Tanaka in the form of scout Rick Short, who played with Tanaka from 2007-09 on the Rakuten Golden Eagles.
You can click here for some Tanaka news from earlier today, and here are some more items from around the NL West...
- Also from Rosenthal's piece, Arizona could be more motivated to sign an ace like Tanaka in free agency since they found the Cubs' and Rays' respective asking prices for Jeff Samardzija and David Price to be too high, Rosenthal notes, not to mention the fact that Price will become more expensive in his final two arbitration-eligible seasons. The D'Backs rate Tanaka higher than other free agent arms like Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez or Ervin Santana.
- Hanley Ramirez and the Dodgers have reportedly been discussing an extension this offseason and ESPN Los Angeles' Mark Saxon looks at some of the factors involved in giving Ramirez a major new deal.
- In a Giants-related mailbag, MLB.com's Chris Haft argues that the Giants should've given Brett Pill more time to prove himself rather than give those at-bats to Jeff Francoeur last summer. Pill's rights were recently sold to the KIA Tigers of the Korean Baseball Organization and his deal with the club was just finalized today. As Haft writes, "the sense here is that the Giants jettisoned Pill without fully discovering what they had in him."
- Buster Posey is just one season into his multiyear extension with the Giants and he's still owed $157MM over the next eight seasons. While it's far too early to place a verdict on this contract, Grant Brisbee of the McCovey Chronicles argues that the Giants may have saved money by locking Posey up last March as opposed to this offseason, as San Francisco might've had to offer their star catcher a nine- or even a ten-year deal in the $200MM threshold.
At the outset of the offseason, it seemed highly likely that the Rays would deal ace David Price. Presumably, Tampa hoped to bring in the kind of haul that James Shields commanded last year. (That trade brought back a return that included AL ROY Wil Myers and top prospect Jake Odorizzi.) As with Shields at the time he was dealt, Price comes with two more years of team control, making now a seemingly opportune moment to maximize his return.
But the market for Price has apparently been slow to develop. Last we've heard, the club may be considering holding onto the 2012 AL Cy Young winner, at least to start the season. Though a trade may still be the most likely result, its timing is now in question. Indeed, there have not been any recent reports of traction in talks.
So, MLBTR readers: when do you think Price will finally be dealt -- if at all?
In an article with the latest on the David Price situation, the Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin dismisses reports that the Rays are motivated to move the Cy Young winner by Dec. 31 to avoid having to pay $4MM in deferred money. "The payment isn't due until Oct. 1, and it is the Rays' obligation, so really a nonfactor, as including it would be the same as asking for cash in a deal and subject to MLB approval," Topkin writes. While the Mariners are often named as a likely suitor for Price, they "seem to talk more about what prospects they don't want to trade." Here's more from the AL and NL East:
- The Orioles could fill their closer and second base vacancies from within, writes Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. Fans have been frustrated by the club's quiet offseason thus far, but the O's seem likely to pluck their next second baseman from what they already have, and they won't spend lavishly on another ninth-inning option if Fernando Rodney doesn't drop his price.
- The Orioles' nullified deal with Grant Balfour could conceivably have ramifications for Baltimore, Kubatko writes. It's possible that the reliever could decide to file a grievance with the Players' Association or that some free agents down the road may be leery of agreeing to terms with the club.
- The Yankees could be back in on Balfour, along with the Tigers, Rockies, and Angels, writes Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Earlier this week we heard that the Rays are also in the mix.
- The Braves won't force the issue in their search of bullpen depth, writes MLB.com's Mark Bowman.
- The Marlins, meanwhile, are after a veteran presence to add to their pen, writes Joe Frisaro of MLB.com.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
The Rays' attempts to trade David Price are greatly complicated by the fact that the team is still trying to contend in 2014, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal writes. Most teams unloading a star player are doing so in order to rebuild and add young talent across the board, but Tampa Bay is trying to add Major League-ready players for another playoff run next season. Here are some more items from Rosenthal's latest column...
- The Rays "probably wouldn't be excited" by the prospect of trading Jeremy Hellickson if they couldn't move Price. Hellickson's name came up in trade rumors last offseason before the Rays moved James Shields, and I agree that if Tampa Bay doesn't trade Price, the team is much more likely to just stand pat with its rotation rather than move another starter.
- Brett Gardner's career numbers compare to those of Michael Bourn and (somewhat surprisingly) even Jacoby Ellsbury, so Rosenthal wonders if the Yankees could sign Gardner to an extension now and perhaps save themselves some future money if they want to keep the outfielder in the fold.
- MLBPA officials believe Gardner will earn a "considerably higher" salary in arbitration than the $4MM number projected by MLBTR's Matt Swartz.
- If the Yankees do abandon their plan to stay under the $189MM luxury tax threshold, then Rosenthal wonders why the team bothered setting that goal for themselves in the first place when it may have cost them several players over the past year. Rosenthal also suggests Bronson Arroyo as a durable short-term option for New York, noting Arroyo's friendship with Yankees strength and conditioning coach Matthew Krause.
- Rosenthal wonders if the Mariners would be willing to re-sign Kendrys Morales (provided that they're still willing to spend, that is). I'd argue that bringing Morales back as the regular DH would create some problems for the M's --- they'd have to trade Justin Smoak, plus play Corey Hart and Logan Morrison in the field every day, which could be a risky move given their injury histories.
- An AL general manager praised the Orioles' trade for David Lough, noting that "he can do everything that [Nate] McLouth does. He might end up being an even better hitter than McLouth.”
David Price's trade market has been somewhat slow to develop, as it may be harder than expected to find a team with both the means and the immediate need to pay the Rays' high asking price for their ace left-hander. The Dodgers may not have enough Major League-ready prospects to pull off a Price deal, ESPN Los Angeles' Mark Saxon opines, though adding Yasiel Puig to the mix would certainly get Tampa Bay's attention. The Cubs, meanwhile, have talented youngsters (Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler, etc.) that could pry Price from the Rays, but ESPN Chicago's Jesse Rogers doesn't think it makes sense for the Cubs to short-circuit their rebuilding process just for two years of Price on a team that isn't ready to contend.
Here's some more from around the AL East...
- The Orioles would have to give up their first round draft pick (17th overall) to sign Kendrys Morales, which FOX Sports Jon Morosi tweets is still "a substantial barrier" to Morales coming to Baltimore. Still, the O's remain interested in the free agent slugger. MLBTR's Jeff Todd recently examined the rather slim market for Morales, who is hampered by both the draft pick compensation and his defensive limitations.
- The Red Sox want Stephen Drew back and hope to still re-sign him, manager John Farrell said during a radio appearance on WEEI's Hot Stove Show (partial transcript from WEEI.com's Alex Speier). Boston's recent trade for Jonathan Herrera adds needed experience to their young left side of the infield, but Farrell said that there's mutual interest between Drew and the Sox in a reunion.
- In AL East news from earlier today, the Orioles' deal with Grant Balfour may be held up due to a medical concern about Balfour's shoulder...the Orioles signed Xavier Paul to a minor league contract...we covered a number of Yankees-related items in a Yankees Notes post.
There has been much speculation about a David Price trade this winter but very little hard information about interested teams. CBS Sports' Jon Heyman explores the seemingly quiet Price trade market in his wrap-up of the latest news about the Rays southpaw...
- "Five or six" teams have made offers involving Price but the Rays haven't seen anything that piques their interest. The Rays "seem slightly shocked" that they haven't received better offers and people within the organization are now discussing keeping Price through at least the start of the season.
- Taijuan Walker seems to be an untouchable for the Mariners, with a Mariners source telling Heyman that "Taijuan Walker will be on our roster come Opening Day." Another M's source says Seattle would prefer to keep both Walker and James Paxton, and instead trade young position players for Price. A Rays official hinted that Seattle could offer an acceptable trade package without Walker, with Heyman noting that Paxton and Mike Zunino would seem to be logical candidates.
- "Tampa Bay's position is that they need one huge prospect or at least a trio of very good ones" for Price, so a Mariners offer based around the likes of Dustin Ackley, Nick Franklin and Justin Smoak wouldn't be enough to get it done.
- The Royals have "had mostly just internal talks on Price" and haven't exchanged any "meaningful dialogue" with the Rays about a possible trade. That said, Heyman notes that Kansas City has the prospect depth to make a trade possible, though Price's rising salary through arbitration over the next two seasons makes a deal a "tall order," according to one Royals source.
- Trading Price within the AL East is "not ideal," according to one Rays source, though the idea wasn't dismissed outright. I'd guess that Tampa Bay would want an even higher premium for Price from a division rival than they would from a non-AL East club.
Mariners officials are signaling to agents and others in the industry that they could be nearing their payroll limit, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Rosenthal opines that, if true, this makes the decision to spent the majority of their available funds on Robinson Cano shows that there was no plan in place for the Mariners.
Rosenthal adds that the Mariners could make exceptions "for the right player" and are continuing to discuss David Price with the Rays. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports noted in yesterday's 10 Degrees column that the M's are softening on their stance that righty Taijuan Walker is off limits.
Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik appeared on MLB Network's Hot Stove this morning and addressed the issue directly when asked by Rosenthal:
"We're at a point where I think we are trying to do a few more things. I'm not sure that anything is going to be a huge splash. We have some options out there that we can either make a trade or could add another piece to it. I think that if we go for another large deal, that obviously is going to have to go above my head. And at this moment we are where we are, and we're trying to make things work with what we have."
In addition to Cano, the Mariners have also added Corey Hart on a one-year deal, re-signed Franklin Gutierrez and acquired Logan Morrison from the Marlins in exchange for Carter Capps. However, the addition of Cano and Hart certainly wouldn't seem to be enough to fix a team that finished 12th in the American League with 624 runs scored.
The Mariners have been linked to big-name free agents such as Nelson Cruz, Shin-Soo Choo and Kendrys Morales, but each of those players figure to command a sizable payday that now could be beyond Seattle's financial capabilities.
Trading Jonathan Papelbon wouldn't solve much for the Phillies at this point, opines Corey Seidman of CSNPhilly.com. Seidman runs down a possible scenario in which the Phillies ate $6MM to move Papelbon, noting that GM Ruben Amaro Jr. would then still try to sign a replacement. Names like Grant Balfour and Joaquin Benoit could cost upwards of $10MM per season anyhow, meaning the Phillies may not even save much money should that scenario play out. Papelbon will have more value to teams at the trade deadline when fewer quality options are available, writes Seidman. Here's more from the NL East...
- David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets that the Braves have approached some of their young stars about extensions over the past two years but felt they'd have to overpay to get something done.
- O'Brien also runs down the Braves needs on the heels of a quiet Winter Meetings, noting that they're optimistic about re-signing Eric O'Flaherty. Atlanta is still pursuing a veteran bench bat -- O'Brien mentions Eric Chavez -- and are still interested in Jeff Samardzija. The Braves may be considered the favorites to land Samardzija at this point, says O'Brien, noting that payroll constraints will likely preclude them from pursuing David Price.
- After adding to their rotation, bench and bullpen, the Nationals will now turn their focus to extending Ian Desmond and Jordan Zimmermann, writes Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. Should the Nats be unable to extend Zimmermann, they may be forced to consider trading him this time next season, one source told Kilgore.
- Nate McLouth spoke to former teammate Adam LaRoche (whom he called one of his favorite teammates ever) and asked what the Nationals clubhouse was like before deciding to sign there, writes Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. McLouth doesn't hold ill will toward the Orioles for not retaining him.