Thursday, April 18, 2013

Could the Cardinals make a play for David Price?

As the reigning Cy Young award winner and having been through the arbitration process twice already, the Tampa Bay Rays' David Price is getting expensive.  He is already earning $10 million this year and can be expected to double that over his next two arbitration years.

What this means is that the Rays, as is their M.O., will probably look to trade Price, maybe as soon as this July, if they are out of contention. 

As a result, people are already starting to speculate as to where Price might end up if he's traded.  In an interview with Mut & Merloni, ESPN's Buster Olney speculated on such a scenario, suggesting that the Cubs could make a play for the lefty, as could the Red Sox.

However, what caught my attention is this quote from Olney:
"...the Cardinals being the team, that if they ever stuck out their elbows, because the farm situation is so deep, they could blow everybody out of the water in a bidding situation.”
Obviously, with baseball's best farm system, the Cardinals have the talent to acquire Price, if they so desire.  The question is would they want to?

Sure, Price is an ace and adding him to a rotation that includes Adam Wainwright, Shelby Miller, Lance Lynn and Jaime Garcia would certainly make the Cardinals World Series favorites.  However, you have to consider the cost.

First, any trade for Price would likely require the Cards to give up prized prospect Oscar Taveras. The Rays traded James Shields and Wade Davis to the Royals over the winter and received the Royals top prospect Wil Myers in return.  Price is better than either of those pitchers and will require a bigger return.  So, Taveras would probably just be the starting point.

Second, the Cardinals just signed Adam Wainwright to an extension for about $20 million a year starting next year.  Are they going to want to commit another $15 million plus to Price?  The Cardinals are not the Yankees and even with some payroll flexibility next year, they probably don't have the room for another big contract.

Finally, this goes against the Cardinals new philosophy of building from within.  Under the old Walt Jockety regime, they Cards utilized their prospects for deadline trades to help them make the playoffs.  Now, under John Mozeliak, the Cardinals have focused more on developing their prospects and utilizing them to fill holes at the major league level.

Bottom line, I do not see the Cardinals becoming a player in the David Price sweepstakes.  Let the Cubs (or some other team) gut their farm system and bloat their payroll to acquire Price.  Meanwhile, the Cards will continue to ride their wave of prospects to the playoffs.

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