Yesterday’s trade of David Price to the Detroit Tigers denied all hope for the post season among team members and fans. All buzz around the trade deadline talks indicated that the Rays were still talking to other teams but were holding out for exactly the package they wanted. Most fans expected the haul for an ace of Price’s ability to be something on the order of a king’s ransom. While pitcher Drew Smyly and young infielders Willy Adames and Nick Franklin could all become productive players for the Rays, the aftermath of the trade has the appearance of a salary dump instead of a transaction designed to position the squad for the future.
Most analysts expected any trade for Price to include at least a couple highly touted prospects and a solid MLB player. Smyly could be viewed as a solid major leaguer. Franklin has spent some time with the Mariners, but does not jump out as a bona fide “cannot miss” contributor. With Adames, the Rays obtained a youngster who has made great strides in Detroit’s less than mediocre minor league system. Nevertheless, Adames is not close to MLB ready and may never may the cut unless his progress continues.
With the Rays having vaulted themselves into at least the conversation over potential post season clubs, Joe Madden has spoken about a potential miracle of making the grade after sitting at 18 games under .500 on June 10. The Rays seemingly were halfway to the miracle based on their performance over the last month and a half. The Tampa club has the best record in Major League Baseball since June 10 and have certainly been a team that others were not itching to play. Sweeping the quality teams such as the Toronto Blue Jays and St. Louis Cardinals and then winning two out of three against the Milwaukee Brewers provided hope for Tampa Bay Rays fans, but their hopes were denied with the David Price trade.
While Andrew Friedman said enough to other clubs to leave the impression that the Rays would only trade Price when all high priced conditions were met, the final outcome of the trade looks more like the team was going to trade Price and wipe his salary off the books no matter who was offered as trade bait. All commentators considering the situation of the Rays could see that Price could not remain with the team next season. After arbitration, his 2014 exploits will yield him a salary in excess of $20 million, which is well north of the Rays’ budget border. Further, the Rays were already stretched with a team payroll in the $80 million range this season. Still, based on the outcome of the trade, Friedman could have received an equivalent yield if the trade occurred after this season concluded.
With David Price as the team’s ace and the squad playing well, Joe Madden and Tampa Bay Rays fans held out hope the team could pull off a miracle and make their way into the post season; however, the Price trade yesterday shot down and denied those hopes. Most Rays fans understand the difficulties of small market teams. Putting together a contender on a limited budget requires great planning and some amount of luck regarding injuries. No doubt Joe Madden will keep the club together and playing well, but the loss of Price took the air out of many Tampa Bay balloons.
Commentary by William Costolo