Is the Price right for Arizona?

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

It's silly season for trade rumors - witness a ludicrous suggestion (which I'm not even linking) that Shin-Soo Choo should be our "top free-agent target". But it does look almost certain the Rays will trade David Price, as they did Matt Garza and James Shields before him, and Arizona has been mentioned as a possible destination.

Particularly considering the thin nature of the free-agent pitching market. with Matt Garza probably the biggest name available, there's bound to be a lot of interest in someone of Price's track-record. But Arizona? Our name has cropped up in a couple of recent reports regarding the Rays' potential trade partners. Joel Sherman of the New York Post polled executives regarding where they thought Price would end up, and reports "The Diamondbacks, because of the presence of touted pitching prospect Archie Bradley, were mentioned frequently."

But some think it may not even be necessary for the Diamondbacks to give up Bradley. Writing on ESPN Insider (subscription needed), Dan Szymborski comes up with the following trade offer - and, remember, Szymborski is writing as a neutral, rather than engaging in fan service rosterbation. "SS Chris Owings, 3B Matt Davidson, C Stryker Trahan." He says this "is the quickest way to match whatever the Dodgers are planning without spending $200 million," though he does acknowledge this isn't a good trade fit, with Evan Longoria stone-cold blocking any need for Davidson. But would a package of that kind be enough?

Firstly, my initial thought is that acquiring Price is not a deal which makes a great deal of sense for Arizona. Even with the removal of Jason Kubel and Ian Kennedy from the payroll this year, there isn't an enormous amount of room to bring salary on board. The team is already committed to $78 million for 11 players next season: Aaron Hill and Martin Prado top the list at $11 million each, with Brandon McCarthy, Cody Ross and Miguel Montero making about another $30 million between them. With hefty pay-rises likely due to the likes of Brad Ziegler and Gerardo Parra, it seems likely there won't be much change from $100 million, based purely off the current roster.

Price was a "Super 2" this year, getting his first of four arbitration-eligible seasons, and having won the Cy Young the previous year, unsurprisingly got a significant boost, earning just north of $10 million this year. He'd probably be in line for $13 million or so in 2014, and it's hard to see how the Diamondbacks can fit him into their budget, unless they can drop a commensurate amount somewhere else. While not impossible - if we traded away, say, J.J. Putz and Cliff Pennington, that'd get us over $10 million of the way there - it's difficult to come up with an easy way, which wouldn't simultaneously create a larger hole.

The other half of the cost is, as we mentioned above, what the Diamondbacks would have to give up in terms of prospects. To quote Sherman, "offers are probably going to have to be better than what Tampa Bay garnered for Shields, who was older and not quite as good... To get Shields and Wade Davis, Kansas City gave the Rays Wil Myers, who was viewed as both near major league ready and one of the game’s best prospects, plus three other prospects, including well-regarded pitchers Mike Montgomery and Jake Odorizzi."

Really, I don't quite see an offer of Owings, Davidson and Trahan as coming close to that. After the mid-season update of the top 100 prospects at MLB.com, Davidson was #66, Owings #83 and Trahan wasn't listed, but came in as the Diamondbacks ninth-best prospect. We can contrast this with the rankings of the prospects in the Shields trade. Before this season, Myers was #4, Odorizzi #45, and Montgomery, while not listed, was a year away from being #31, so was clearly not a throw-in. On that basis, it makes sense for any conversation regarding Price to start with someone of Bradley's caliber.

That's really why I think any mention of the D-backs and Price is pure speculation. I can't believe that the 28 other teams in the majors will be unable to come up with a better trade than the #66 prospect in baseball, and that's the one which the Rays will pick. The alternative - dealing Bradley as part of a package for Price - would be a massive mis-step for Arizona, especially considering Price is under contract for only two more seasons before becoming a free agent. With Archie highly likely to be part of our own rotation before that happens, I'd rather we built around him for the long-term, rather than getting older, a great deal more expensive, and not necessarily much better.

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