Will they or won’t they? That’s a question on every Cubs fans mind when it comes to the trade deadline and David Price of the Detroit Tigers. With prizes like Ben Zobrist, Tyler Clippard and Jonathan Papelbon already off the board, some are wondering when the Cubs are going to get their turn on the acquisition front in a push for the playoffs.
Detroit decided Wednesday afternoon to reboot and listen on trades for impending free agents. And that includes David Price. Let’s try to get a handle on what it may take for the Cubs to acquire him if the front office makes a significant trade for a rental.
Cole Hamels has been at the top of the rumor mill lately and is considered by many to be the top choice of most teams in baseball thanks to many years of control and cost certainty. Price doesn’t have the years of control, but it’s debatable if he or Hamels is the top pitcher available and it’s easy to see why.
In his eight-year career, Price owns a 95-55 record, 3.13 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 1285 strikeouts in 1367.1 innings. He’s been voted to five All-Star teams and won the Cy Young Award back in 2012. He’s easily one of the top pitchers in all of baseball and currently ranks fourth in innings (146), eighth in strikeouts (136) and second in complete games (3). From the Cubs standpoint, he greatly improves their pitching depth and would give them a bon-a-fide Ace to pair with Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta to make a very scary playoff rotation. He also has familiarity with manager Joe Maddon, who he played for in his first seven seasons and has had reported fondness for.
To get a gauge of Price’s value, the first trade to evaluate is the three team deal he was involved in last year. Detroit sent OF Austin Jackson to the Seattle Mariners who flipped SS Nick Franklin to the Tampa Bay Rays. Detroit then sent SS Willy Adames and LHP Drew Smyly to the Rays. Smyly was the headliner of this deal as an exciting above average pitcher with strikeout stuff and four years control remaining. Adames wasn’t a ranked prospect with Detroit at the time, but is now considered a top five with the Rays. The young shortstop is just 19 years old and has a ways to go, but can hit, is a good defender and has projectable power. Jackson was sent to the Mariners in order to facilitate the trade of Franklin to the Rays. Franklin is a middle infielder with pop and could be a useful Major League player for the Rays.
Another ace-type pitcher was traded at the deadline last year and should be familiar to Cubs fans is Jon Lester. Lester was acquired by the Oakland A’s from the Boston Red Sox along with OF Jonny Gomes and cash for OF Yoenis Cespedes and a competitive balance round B pick. Lester was a rental pitcher who the A’s acquired in the midst of a big playoff push in an attempt to win the World Series. Along with Lester, the A’s also acquired Gomes for bench depth and cash to help pay the remainder of Lester’s salary. Billy Beane gave up Cespedes, arguably one of the A’s top hitters and a decent middle of the order bat with a remaining year of control and a draft pick at the end of the second round in June’s draft.
The last deal to consider is a trade that was very familiar to Cubs fans last season, the one that sent Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the A’s for SS Addison Russell, OF Billy McKinney, RHP Dan Straily and cash. Hammel and Samardzija are certainly not ace pitchers, but the way they played last season and the value the Cubs got back for them was definitely ace-worthy. Russell was the A’s top prospect as the total package at shortstop with power, speed, on-base ability and a solid fielder to boot. McKinney was the A’s second best prospect despite his young age due to an ability to hit for a high average and approach at the plate despite otherwise average tools. Straily gave the Cubs some controllable young pitching depth for an organization starved for it.
As you can see in all three deals, if you’re going to acquire ace-level talent, you’re going to have to give up something major in value even if it’s for 10-12 starts at the end of the season. If the Tigers decide to part with Price, it’ll be no doubt for a major haul.
With that in mind that means names like Gleyber Torres, Billy McKinney, Carl Edwards Jr. and Duane Underwood Jr. are going to be starting points. While players like Albert Almora Jr., Pierce Johnson, Mark Zagunis, Wilson Contreras, Dan Vogelbach and Dylan Cease are also to be included.
Trading for him would certainly announce the team’s intention to contend for the World Series this season. If the front office is going to give up any of their top five prospects for a rental player like David Price, there likely will have to be some sort of guarantee about signing with the club in the off-season. It will likely come down to what kind of deal can be struck and based on what the front office has been saying all year and how the team has been playing as of late, it’s hard to fathom a deal being struck. But when you have a team in the thick of the playoff race that hasn’t won a World Series in over 107 years, you never know.
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Player Acquisition Cost Reports:
- LHP Cole Hamels
- LHP Oliver Perez
- RHP Sonny Gray
- LHP Steven Matz
- RHP Tom Koehler
- OF Gerardo Parra
- RHP Dan Haren
- OF Will Venable
- RHP Tyson Ross
- RHP James Shields
- RHP Ian Kennedy