The time has come for all fans of the Tampa Bay Rays to say good-bye and so long to ace pitcher David Price. With the trade deadline approaching at the end of July and the team stuck in last place in the AL East, General Manager Andrew Friedman cannot let the deadline pass without moving the Cy Young winning left-hander. Building on the success of 2013, Owner Stuart Sternberg believed the Rays had a legitimate shot at post season success this year and allowed the payroll to exceed $80 million. With team attendance lagging at second to last in MLB and the Rays’ record sitting at 30-46, the team must field offers for its ace to lay the foundation for success next year.
Although not a complainer, Price has plenty of reason to gripe as the Rays’ bats seem to be absent to support him. With a record of 5-7 and ERA of 3.81, Price remains somewhat effective. While not performing at the Cy Young level this year or last, Price could be the missing piece for a contending team. In order to maximize his trade value, Friedman must find a suitor with both the need for Price and the right assets to make the move worthwhile. A trade within the AL East is out, unless the trade partner pays a substantial premium. The Boston Red Sox have a number of potentially available prospects, but trading their ace to a major rival would require a king’s ransom.
They Rays could possibly get the most value from teams in the Wild Card hunt, but most of the likely trade partners already possess good number one starters and overpaying for a number two does not make sense in the “one and done” Wild Card playoff framework. The teams who could most benefit from Price are the respective division leaders, who could start Price twice in a playoff series. Unfortunately, teams such as the Milwaukee Brewers and Oakland Athletics are budget challenged and could not pay for value for a player they probably could not afford beyond next year.
The Rays are reported to seek a trade package similar to that received when the Tampa Bay club shipped James Shields to the Kansas City Royals. They want a top flight pitching prospect and bat, similar to Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi. RF Myers, currently on the DL with a broken wrist, became the 2013 Rookie of the Year. While Odorizzi’s record has been spotty, he flashed his potential again on Saturday with zero runs and one hit pitching in 7 1/3 innings against the Houston Astros.
With the Rays no longer in contention for even a Wild Card postseason berth, Tampa Bay fans must accept the fact they will need to say so long to ace David Price in the near future. No one wants him to leave and the team certainly wishes they could afford him, but the budget conscious team has not done well thus far in 2014 and must look at building its roster for next season and beyond.
Commentary by William Costolo