Our buddy Dan Szymborski wrote a piece for ESPN Insider this week discussing the possible destinations for David Price, should the Tampa Bay Rays try to take advantage of Price's value with two years of club control left on his contract. It's a great read and you can give it a look here (insider).
It's never too early to speculate about the Hot Stove, is it?
Szymborski's proposed trade is missing one interesting piece: Jurickson Profar.
Honestly, I have a difficult time imagining the Rays making a deal without Profar in it. No, I don't think Profar's value has changed much at all based on 2013. That might sound odd, figuring he hit .234 with six homers and 26 RBIs in 85 games. But the reality is that scouts (at least the ones I've talked to) know that Profar is a middle infielder and if left at one position, figure he'll improve quickly. He was put in a difficult spot this past season, moving positions and adjusting to life in the big leagues as a utility player.
He's got a high ceiling and for the 2012 Cy Young Award winner and a guy that came on strong after a rough April and May, I would think Profar is on top of the Rays' list.
So is it possible to get this deal done without Profar? Maybe, but the price in terms of exhausting so much of the top part of the farm system makes it difficult. The Rangers would essentially have to hand over three or four of their best prospects not named Profar. That would probably include two names that Szymborski mentioned: middle infielder Rougned Odor and third baseman Joey Gallo. But they might also talk about Luke Jackson, Jorge Alfaro or Luis Sardinas, just to name a few. And the Rays would likely want a young, big-league ready pitcher if they're giving up an ace. It just seems odd that a deal like this even has a realistic chance to get done without Profar in it.
Don't forget: There's a financial angle to all of this too. Price made $10.1 million this season. He'll get another raise next season and the season after that in arbitration. Anyone who acquires him will also do everything they can to get a long-term deal in place. And that's why it's a good time for the Rays to part with him. His value is high and they aren't likely to be able to afford to keep him after the 2015 season. There's precedence too, with the trade of James Shields to Kansas City (with two years left on his deal).
Price is one of those "big fish" that could be available this offseason. What team doesn't want starting pitching? And imagine David Price fronting this rotation with Yu Darvish. To me, that kind of trade has to involve a big-time, young, up-and-coming player like Profar. But Price is certainly one to watch as the Rangers go about trying to improve their squad this offseason. No matter what the final deal is, it's going to be a big price to pay to get him. But Price is an impact pitcher that isn't available very often.