David Overpriced

What a terrible title.

David Price is in the midst of a Cy Young season. His strikeout and walk ratios are better than ever and he’s pitching far better than he ever has before. That’s including his 2012 year in which he won the Cy Young award. With a Rays team that has been scuffling until just recently and with a contract year looming next year, it’s no wonder the Rays are gauging interest from other teams. He’s an extremely hot commodity. The Mariners are specifically interested because Roenis Elias should be shut down somewhat soon and Chris Young can’t possibly keep up this success. At least… he shouldn’t be able to. The link from the Mariners to David Price is intriguing because Price’s agent, Bo McKinnis, said as recently as this past winter that he wouldn’t sign an extension with the Mariners.

McKinnis’ comments came before Seattle surprised people as a contender. No one knows if Price has changed his tune on signing an extension with Seattle, but even if he would, the Mariners have been pretty damn stingy with money. With the APY of Cano at $24M and APY for Felix at $25M, that would probably put ~$70M in just three players assuming Price gets around $20M a year on average. With that big three in place (Walker, Hultzen, Paxton, anyone?), the Mariners might raise their “budget” for once, but it isn’t something I’d bank on. Those two things alone are enough to frighten someone out of a Price trade. Tack on the fact that you would have to give up Walker, Franklin, and at least a couple more prospects away. The Rays supposedly love Brad Miller, and prospects along the caliber of Edwin Diaz or Victor Sanchez could be sent as well.

Signing Price for a season and a month or two or three is scary as hell because there’s a solid chance we don’t even make it past the first round of the playoffs. You could say there’s another year of Price, or that you could flip him, but that would in a way be symbolic of waving the white flag on the 2015 playoffs. Moves like this always come with a risk, but it’s a hard risk to take knowing that he most likely won’t be around after next season. Price immediately adds ~5 wins over a season, but it wouldn’t be hard for Walker and Co. to be worth that and then some in a season or two.

While there’s a chance in 2015 even if we falter in the playoffs, we’re still lacking bats (as evidenced by our dead-last team rank in OPS) and it’s going to be tougher to acquire said bats when you traded away key pieces of your farm system. With a system that was once considered one of the top in the MLB, a lot of prospects have graduated to the MLB or are in an “AAAA” stage in their careers. Because of this, prospects are very far away from joining the Mariners and that is leaving our depth rather thin.

If any Rays player, I would prefer Ben Zobrist due to his bat and versatility. The M’s were supposedly closing in on a deal for him, but it broke down when they started winning. At this point I don’t expect such a move to take place because of the Rays’ sudden surge in contention. Instead, the Mariners have been linked to other players like Marlon Byrd, Casey McGehee, and Cliff Lee. The Mariners are notoriously tight lipped so they may not be interested in any of these players (aside from Byrd). The problem with Byrd is in order for him to waive his no-trade clause that he has us included in, he wants us to vest his 2016 club option which would guarantee him $8M with no buyout. Byrd turns 37 in a month, but against lefties he is slashing .302/.348/.581 with a wOBA of .390 and wRC+ of 151. In other words, he is absolutely raking against lefties, and he’s no slouch against righties either (.333 wOBA, 111 wRC+). If you want to improve this team’s splits against lefties, one of the best ways to do it is by trading for Byrd. It’s not without risk, and it’s most certainly not going to solve our problems completely, but it’s a great first step without investing too much of our future in a trade for a bat.

Since the Mariners are looking for a pitcher to fill out the rotation, I would go after an Ian Kennedy type pitcher. There have been rumblings of Ian Kennedy being available, and for how good he is, it seems he can be had for much less than he’s actually worth. Kennedy would be a good fit in the park, and he’s having a breakout year. His current 3.21 SIERA is a career best (3.44 previously), and his K/9 is 9.53(!!!) while his BB/9 isn’t bad at 2.57. He doesn’t give up too many dingers and his peripherals don’t suggest much room for regression. I don’t think a David Price or Cliff Lee type pitcher is needed, although it would be nice. James Paxton and Taijuan Walker are far from sure things due to their injuries, so our rotation is in need of some sort of an upgrade.

Worst case scenario (and I mean worst case, everything went wrong), we could do much worse than sign recently DFA’d Alfonso Soriano. Just last year, he was worth 2.9 WAR, hit 34 dingers, and sported a .350 wOBA and 116 wRC+. He seems to be the kind of player Jack Z and Lloyd would love (unfortunately). The only problem is he reallllly shit the bed this year and was DFA’d after putting up a -1.2 WAR.

I could do this whole rosterbation process all I want, but at the end of the day I have little to no idea what Jack Z is doing right now or what he’s thinking. The overall idea is that I don’t think David Price is a great idea at the end of the day. As fun as it sounds, and as cool as a big three of Felix, Price, and Kuma would be, it’s just not something I would want to see happen.

While the A’s have traded for Shark and Hammel, the Yankees snagged McCarthy and Headley, and the Angels acquired Street, the Mariners have yet to do anything. As it is, trailing wild card teams (including the Rays) are gaining ground on us as we look to do something. This is the biggest deadline since the 2001 season and our only shot at contention since then, so we cannot afford to mess this up. For the first time since Geoff Baker’s infamous dysfunctional front office article, I’m putting all of my faith in Jack Zduriencik.

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