Would you trade shortstop Jurickson Profar straight up for Tampa Bay Rays' pitcher David Price? ESPN.com's Keith Law wouldn't. The minor-league guru told The Ben & Skin Show on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM that he values six years of Profar -- Law puts a premium on Profar's overall skill and the fact that he's a position player in the middle of the diamond -- over three years of club control of Price. Even Law concedes that a trade like that wouldn't even be thrown out because executives value pitching too much.
But just for fun (again, this is pure speculation), let's say that was the deal: Profar for Price. Law says he wouldn't trade Profar for Price unless the Rays threw in more pieces to the deal.
"Maybe you put Profar in a deal and get Price plus something else because you're trading six years for three years," Law said. "Do I believe such a deal would ever take place? No, I really doubt it. I think perceived values, which are not always the same as real values, have a lot to do with what trades occur in major league baseball.
"In this case, it would be very hard for the Rays to justify a deal like that with the perceived value of Price. They might be able to turn around and trade Price to someone else who's willing to overpay and give them major league players in return."
Ben & Skin talked about it again on the show Thursday morning. But there are several factors to consider here before you make your call. A few of those:
Profar, ranked No. 1 in Law's prospect rankings, is under club control for six years, and how much he plays in the big leagues this year determines when those six years are up. If Profar spends just under two months in the minors, he wouldn't accrue enough service time to get a full year this season, delaying the season in which he becomes a free agent.
Price has two more arbitration-eligible seasons after 2013. He'll make $10.1125 million this season and his salary will escalate from there. But he won't become a free agent until after the 2015 season. And if he's traded now, for instance, a club would have three years to try to convince him to sign long-term with them.
Price, 27, would give the club an ace with three years left on his deal. He won the AL Cy Young Award last year and has pitched at least 200 innings in each of the past three seasons. He has a career 3.16 ERA and a 61-31 record with 725 strikeouts and 259 walks. He's pitched in playoff games and does what aces are supposed to do: Keeps his team in games consistently and can dominate opponents at any time.
Profar has a huge ceiling. He's got a productive bat with power and plays solid defense at a critical position. While Price's salary escalates in the coming seasons, Profar will be cheap until he hits arbitration in three or four years.
My call? Make the deal. Look, I understand that Profar could be outstanding. Scouts rave about him and he's impressed me in limited looks in the minors and majors, too. But aces don't come around often. Heck, the Rangers had to make a $107 million investment in Yu Darvish in hopes that he would become one. So far, that looks like a great decision. But can you imagine Price and Darvish at the top of the Rangers' rotation the next three years? Throw in Matt Harrison, an 18-game winner last year, as the No. 3 and the depth of the rotation increases dramatically.
The risk here is that in two years the Rangers wouldn't have Profar or Elvis Andrus, whose comments yesterday on Ben & Skin seem to point toward him taking his act to the open market in two years. But I'd still make the deal despite the idea that there might be a hole at shortstop in two years. Leury Garcia could end up working his way there, or someone from outside the organization could jump in. And while those aren't better choices than Profar or Andrus, I'm willing to sacrifice it if it means Price is in the rotation. The deal gets even better, of course, if you can secure Price for the long haul. But I'll make the deal even without knowing that.
It makes more financial sense to keep Profar and Law thinks he can be one of the five or six best players in the game by the time he's 24 or 25. But the most difficult thing to find in this game is an ace. Can you imagine if the Rangers had two of them? So if that speculative deal was on the table, I make it.
What about you? Do you wave goodbye to six years of Profar for three of Price? Or do you turn that down?