He's reportedly on the trade market as the Tampa Bay Rays are looking to keep their costs down as he approaches free agency after the 2015 season. Any club that gets him, and then extends a contract to him, needs to be ready to pay $20 million or more a season for his services. Think more than a $100 million investment, and that's just the money.
Most observers rightly assume it would take a package of talented players both at the major league and minor league levels to get Price. In the Cubs' case, their strength is in their prospects. So think Javier Baez or Kris Bryant or Jorge Soler or a combination of several of them to get Price.
First off, there's no reason to believe this is being explored. In fact, it's simply not going to happen.
And that's a good thing.
Call me crazy, but I wouldn't trade the Cubs' No. 1 prospect, Baez, for Price. Let me be clear: I'm not even talking about Baez as the lead player in a package. I'm saying I wouldn't trade Baez for Price, straight up, one-for-one. Not now. The timing is way off for a deal like that.
The moment the Cubs trade Baez for Price is the moment their rebuilding is over. And if it ends now, it's far from complete. Freeze both Baez's (21) and Price's (28) ages and production right now. Now go back two years before the rebuilding began. Sure, with Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster and Alfonso Soriano and some decent major leaguers, yeah, of course the Cubs should trade for Price. Or fast forward a couple of seasons when this rebuilding phase is closer to completion. That's when a bold trade for Price makes sense as well.
When the Cubs are ready to win. Or a lot closer than they are now.
Price is a very good pitcher, but there is nothing written in stone that says he'll defy age and history to be dominant long into his 30s. He went 20-5 with a 2.56 ERA in 2012, but he had a drop off last season, pitching fewer than 200 innings for the first time since 2009 and his ERA (3.33) and record (10-8) were nothing special. And he was sidelined with a triceps injury for about six weeks. So it was one of those up-and-down years.
The point is once he gets paid and hits 30, you don't know what you're getting. And to "waste" the next couple of seasons paying him huge money while you're still building a foundation -- and you've lost Baez -- would be a mistake.
That age difference between the two players plus the cost control the Cubs have over Baez is the main reason to reject the notion of that kind of deal right now. It's the same reason you say no to free agent Shin-Soo Choo or players of that age and caliber. Unless you sign and trade for them all, then it's the wrong move. And even trading and signing for a bunch of them now would be a mistake.
The Cubs wouldn't win unless they caught lightning in a bottle, and they'd be right back where they started in a season or two with aging, costly players and a bare farm system.
At some point, the Cubs are going to have to roll the dice on something big, but not now. Whether you like their rebuilding strategy or not, wavering from it now would be the wrong thing to do and will set the Cubs back even further. You might not want to be all in with this strategy, but it's too late to go back.
No Price, no Choo, no major deals. Not yet.