Jun 25, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher David Price (14) takes the field for the ninth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Tropicana Field. Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Pros and Cons of Going After David Price


It’s that time of year again.  David Price is available… and somebody will probably get him this time.  Should the Braves do so?  Well, let’s at least do our due diligence and weigh out the pros and cons of such a deal.

 

The Pros

  • Right now, he is clearly the best starting pitcher that is clearly available via trade.  He himself said just yesterday that he’s locked in and throwing better than he ever has before.  The stats clearly show it, too.
  • He would improve the entire staff.  David Price is an ace-level pitcher.  Whether you believe that Julio Teheran or Mike Minor are pitching that well doesn’t matter:  adding Price means that the Braves would have three starters – and four if you count Alex Wood – who could go out and match up against anybody.  If you’re trying to improve the staff, nibbling around the 3rd-to-5th rotation slot isn’t useful:  we have those pitchers (David Hale and Aaron Harang).  If you’re going to make an addition, you add to the top.  In this way, you add a new #1 and remove and old #5.
  • It’s not just about the playoffs.  Price would help you get there.  The Braves had a solid rotation right now, but certainly Price – pitching full-time  in the National League for the first time – would also help over the second half of the season.
  • “using your farm system as leverage to improve the major league team is a good and valid strategy”
    Price is under contract through 2015.  He is not a “rental” pitcher.  He would be available through the 2015 season.  That should make the cost of obtaining him much more palatable, but I’ll get to that later.
  • He’s at least worth a draft pick.  Keep Price through 2015 and he is worth a compensation draft pick should he go the free agent route.
  • If the Braves get him, nobody else will have him.  No, this isn’t a “Captain Obvious” statementit’s a real consideration.  Look – it’s playoff contenders that dip their toes in these waters:  the kinds of teams that Atlanta has been failing to knock off in the playoffs over the past couple of years.  Certainly, the chances of success in the playoffs for a Milwaukee, St. Louis or even the Dodgers would improve if any of those clubs landed David Price.  Certainly Atlanta’s chances would be reduced if any of those scenarios came to pass.
  • Geographic preference?  Price is from “Braves’ Country” – in this case, it’s Murfreesboro, TN (just SE of Nashville).  He went to Vanderbilt.  So did Mike Minor.  Remember his agent’s comment from the Winter Meetings?  Would Price be interested in signing an extension deal with Seattle?  “No.”  Are there cities that he’d want to sign a long-term deal with?  “Yes.”  I can only speculate here, but you’d have to think that Atlanta would be on the “opt-in” list.
  • He solves a big problem for next season.  We already know that neither Brandon Beachy nor Kris Medlen will be available to start the year.  Given their situations, there’s no guarantees that either will be back, period.  Meanwhile, Aaron Harang, Santana, and Floyd will also be gone.  That leaves a huge hole.  So who do you want to pitch next year?  A former Cy Young winner or some unknown ‘veteran free agent’?

 

The Cons

  • The trade will be costly to the farm system.  Big time. The Braves took a large hit when Gavin Floyd went down for the year… maybe not so much about the loss of his arm (since I believe he would have been traded within the next week or so), but in terms of the prospect(s) Atlanta might have received in return.  If I were doing it, I would have been making sure that I knew of the Rays’ needs so that I could make a Floyd deal that looked forward to a Price deal.  Unfortunately, that’s now all a moot point.
    A deal for David Price would certainly require the Braves’ best prospect:  Lucas Sims.  It would probably also require David Hale, plus another significant minor league player or two.  I would offer Joey Terdoslavich, as he provides utility to the Rays, and he has little future with his current organization.  Any way you slice it, though, that’s a big price to pay (no pun intended).
  • Competition will raise the cost even higher.  No doubt.  Teams already linked to him to some degree include Milwaukee, St. Louis, the Yankees, the Blue Jays, Detroit, and the Angels.  There are several “heavy hitters” in there – including some with the depth of a farm system to pull off a deal.  That trade outline I suggested above?  That could easily be trumped.
  • Pitchers are risky – always.  Price has not had a major injury during his career.  You could say he’s ‘due’.  He’s on pace for his fourth 200 inning season over the past five years… and had 186 in the exception year (2013).
  • He’s Expensive.  $14,000,000 this year and probably something around $17-19 million for 2015.  Yes, that’s a lot though I have a rebuttal for that.

 

The Rebuttals

  • Salary.  Believe it or not, this is actually not an issue.  The Braves went a bit beyond their own comfort zone in getting Ervin Sanata and Gavin Floyd.  They cost the team a total of $18,000,000.  Huh.  Interesting number, given my projection for Price’s cost in 2015.
  • Atlanta has $77,658,000 in committed salary for 2015 already with 8 arbitration cases.  Two are significant:  Mike Minor and Kris MedlenRyan Doumit and Gerald Laird are free agents – one or both are likely gone.  Still, that leaves quite a bit of payroll space for a David Price.
  • Even in 2014, the Braves had to have budgeted for performance bonuses that Gavin Floyd would have earned – another $4 million (+/-) for additional starts that now will not occur.  Price is due roughly $7 million more this year… yes, it’s a stretch, but should not be out of the question.
  • Supposing Atlanta were to try and take the extraordinary step of getting David Price signed up for an extension (which would have to be 5-6 years at $22-24 million each), then the numbers are not terribly out of the question:  Dan Uggla and Justin Upton come off the books in 2016 (the same year a Price extension would begin).
  • Yes pitchers are risky, but then so are the pitchers that would be given up in trade.  Lucas Sims is the best we’ve got to offer, but frankly, would you rather have a Ace Cy Young Award winner or a guy who might develop into one?
  • Finally, the Braves are in an interesting predicament:  they typically draft late because they have been typically good.  We don’t get extra draft picks for “competitive balance” or anything else.   On average, their farm system will therefore not produce as many top-flight prospects… unless their scouting is better than that of other teams.  On-field evidence suggests this is the case, but the point here is that using your farm system as leverage to improve the major league team is a good and valid strategy.  Obviously this should be done wisely, but with many players now signed to long-term deals, it makes sense to sell assets that will not be needed.

 

Yes – in terms of full disclosure – I am an advocate of the Braves trying to muster a trade for David Price.  I’ve made no secret of this.  But as I’ve tried to make the case for such a deal – with a mindful eye in the other direction – I want to know what y’all think:  do it or not?  But please also give us your reasons in the comments section below!

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  • Brandon_Woodworth

    Not happening because Frank Wren isn’t giving up Alex Wood/JR Graham, Christian Bethancourt, and more for an expensive pitcher who will walk in free agency.

    • http://tomahawktake.com/ carpengui

      I just don’t think it takes all that… and Fred outlined good reasons why: there’s competition, but not a ton of *real* competition. I do think 2 pitchers are required, by a request for Wood would make the phone call suddenly go dead. Likewise, Bethancourt isn’t going anywhere.

  • fireboss

    I like Price but call me a pessimist if you will. I have this feeling that the towns on his yes list
    1) have a team that wears pinstripes with no name on the back
    2) Is known for chowder
    3) can offer him Lakers season tickets as a perk
    4) If their lineup needs fixing they go fix it
    Doumit has to be replaced next year his money goes to that and the system doesn’t have anyone I can think of.
    I think the real market for him is smaller that most believe.
    The Braves could get him in spite of all the nay-sayers but as I said up
    front I don’t think he sees himself in a Tomahawk long term. On top of that the GM’s credibility when asking for a big check is not the best. He has 28M of lost money now that he won;t release and can’t trade.
    All this talk about the Cardinals is smoke,. The Cards build pitching from within and are pretty well set even with 2 on the DL.
    Brewers tried this before with Sabbathia and emptied their farm system. They couldn’t afford him unless they trade Garza and his 12.5 is looking a bit high as he’s pitching to a -0.2 WAR on a divisional leader so far this year.
    Jays have the system to get him if they want to go there. I think Andopolis (sp) needs to win so they may well try and Rogers has the money
    Texas was in it but their injuries make them sellers now
    The Angels system is pretty thin as I recall without looking
    The Giants could land him if they wanted to make a splash but couldn’t extend him
    Yankees wil wait and buy him off the shelf for 2016.
    Mariners no longer need him their Hernandez mark II is back and a stud.
    Dark horses: Red Sox have the system to get him and money to keep him and if their lineup gets fixed soon they might.
    Marlins: The Marlins have the system and the money, they also need to spend money under pressure from MLB. Consi der the Marlins with Price, Hernandez, Eovaldi, Stanton and those rookies who seem to get better every day.
    The Rays have said they will take the right package from any team.
    Having said all of that Wren always does the opposite of what I think he will so who knows? He won’t win it for us because he can’t play every day and get on base at a 350 clip but it could be a great ride

  • Ryan Cothran

    Lucas Sims has a +5 ERA this year. In my opinion, he wouldn’t be the biggest player they’d ask for. I bet it’d cost us Peraza and Sims with a few added pieces.

    • http://tomahawktake.com/ carpengui

      Sims just got a little better tonight :)

    • JASON TODD BARBER

      it would cost us LUCAS SIMS JOSE PERAZA JR GRAHAM AND MAYBE EVEN DAVID HALE AND/OR ALEX WOOD

      • fireboss

        Well know it wouldn’t cost all of those. The market isn’t that deep. It’s likely to be Sims plus a couple or pieces, one major league ready, They would ask for Wood but Hale might do if we add another arm like Northcraft and a lower level prospect. He’s a 3 WAR pitcher and those aren’t cheap.
        But again the Braves aren’t in the Price mix

  • Gary Smith

    Where are the players at AA or AAA going in the next few years? The major league roster is locked up with the exception of 2B for the next few years.
    C – Gattis/Bethancourt
    1B – Freeman
    2B – LaStella/Reyes
    SS – A. Simmons
    3B – Johnson/Kubitza
    LF – J. Upton
    CF – B. Upton
    RF – Heyward
    SP – Teheran
    SP – Minor
    SP – Wood
    SP – Northcraft ?
    SP – Sims ?
    RP – Hale
    RP – Jaime
    RP – Varvaro
    RP – Avilan
    RP – Walden
    RP – S. Simmons
    RP – Venters ?
    RP – Kimbrel
    Where are the question marks? With the starting pitching, Floyd, Harang and Santana are gone, Beachy and Medlen will not be ready for the start of 2015. David Price makes since because what you give up for him, you can probably recoup a lot of it next year if he is not going to sign an extension.

    • http://tomahawktake.com/ carpengui

      Exactly where I was going… not a lot of movement needed… some of the farmhand are actually, technically usable.

    • JASON TODD BARBER

      who is this reyes kid …surely your not talking about trading for jose injury prone broken down reyes and putting him at short

  • JASON TODD BARBER

    absolutely not…although hes the best pitcher alive today because it would cost way too much in terms of prospects,besides theres no guarantee the braves wont resign justin upton….heres one fan hoping they do…not to mention the fact we have several players of our own who deserve long term extensions…ryan doumit justin upton evan gattis tommy lastella etc…

    • fireboss

      Price isn’t the best pitcher alive, he’s one of the two best available this year but there are at least 4 better out there. They won;t be available however. That aside there are some things to consider about the extensions you suggested. Gattis and La Stella are years away from immediate consideration for extension. Gattis will be a Super 2 next year but his extension can wait because the Braves have control over him through 2018.They control La Stella for at least that long and maybe longer but he may or may not be where the Braves hang there second base hat with Peraza approaching the majors quickly. Ryan Doumit is a 33 year old bench bat who’s not a good catcher and only a marginal outfielder. He’ll remain affordable but he is replaceable; remember Hinske. Justin Upton makes $14m this year and next. I’d like to keep him as well but he will cost closer to 20 than 15M. Knowing the Braves salary limitations is it likely they’ll do that?
      Prospects are acquired to make the team better. They can do that by playing for the team or being traded for parts the team needs.A team can’t hoard all of it’s prospects, free agency ended that. Almost certainly all of our top prospects won’t remain a Brave and many will never meet projections. And of course Huckabay’s axiom is very true “There’s no such thing as a pitching prospect”
      Not to worry though the Braves won’t do it

  • fireboss

    None of those was a particularly expensive extension. The Braves Payroll is currently at 112M and stretched. To keep Justin they’d have to find another around 5 years at about 19AAV. Freeman’s contract is the only one approaching that and it’s a 16.5 AAV. The reason they extended young players was that they could hold the price down by doing so. While we are saddled with the albatross of BJ a medium market team like the Braves would struggle to do that. IF they do it they wanted to do it they would have already started talks. Players who enter their walk year almost universally test free agency and 2015 is his walk year. It might happen but I’d be shocked if it does