Note: As part of our "Hot Stove Talk" series, which looks at issues, players and trades the Texas Rangers could consider this offseason, we'll also take a look at some positions on the club and assess whether general manager Jon Daniels and his staff should upgrade them at next week's Winter Meetings.
Today's issue: Could Winter Meetings be where David Price's market heats up?
Since it's cold and icy out there, let's talk more Hot Stove. Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reported this week that the market for Tampa Bay Rays' ace David Price is expected to heat up. And as you might expect, he lists the Rangers among the teams interested.
The Rays, of course, don't have to trade Price, who won the Cy Young Award in 2012. They have another competitive team and could roll with Price and see what happens. But if the Rays want to get the full value of trading Price, now is the time to deal him. He's got two years remaining on his contract and should land a nice prospect haul, considering how thin the starting pitching market is now.
It's not often that a recent Cy Young Award winner with a few years of club control left is made available. He's 28 and still in the prime of his career. He posted a 3.33 ERA, well above his normally stellar mark, but he got better as the season progressed once he was over a triceps injury to start the season. Price's ERA was more than a run better after the All-Star break and once again he showed excellent control with a 5.59 strikeout-to-walk ratio, which was the best in his five full seasons.
Price finished the regular season in Arlington for Game 163 and gave up two runs on seven hits in a complete-game win to send the Rays to the AL wild-card game in Cleveland.
Besides paying Price -- MLB Trade Rumors thinks he'll make around $13.1 million in 2014 -- he's going to cost plenty in terms of prospects. That's what you'd expect. The question is what kind of price the Rangers would be willing to pay and how it might compare with what other teams are offering the Rays.
Tampa Bay likely won't be picky about any specific positions of need. They'll want the best package they can get. If the Rangers put Jurickson Profar in the mix, that would put them on par with just about anything anybody else can offer. But does it make sense to put Profar in a deal now that Ian Kinsler has been dealt? The club has some young, middle-infield talent beyond Profar, but they made the Prince Fielder deal in part to free up the space to play Profar.
Could the Rangers make a deal for Price without Profar? Possibly. There's plenty of young talent in the system, but for a player like Price, you would think other teams will dangle their top prospect, so it would depend on the package. Texas has power-hitting prospects, middle infielders and pitching at various parts of the lower levels of the minor-league system (names like Rougned Odor, Luke Jackson, Joey Gallo, Luis Sardinas and others). The Rays will likely want some sort of major-league starter in addition to whatever prospect package comes their way, so it could mean parting with someone currently in the rotation.
As we've seen in the past, the Rangers won't hesitate to talk and try to get creative. And if Price is made available, especially as the general managers gather in Orlando next week, you can bet the Rangers will be exploring the possibility. It's tough not to imagine what a rotation fronted by Price and Yu Darvish could do, isn't it? The question is whether, at this point, it's now too much to give up for him (signing him to an extension, perhaps having 48 hours to do so for the trade to go through, would be critical).
With so many free agents already off the board and a few big trades already in the books, Price's name could be one that we hear often next week in Disney World.
You got a package you'd be willing to send the Rays for Price? Tell us in the comment section and we'll discuss.