The Major League Baseball winter meetings have been buzzing with rumors that Tampa Bay Rays’ starting pitcher, David Price, is available for, excuse us, the right price. Although our colleague, Anson Whaley does not agree with the Rays wanting to trade the 2012 Cy Young Award Winner, suggesting they should wait until he gets closer to becoming a free agent (Price is eligible after the 2015 season), citing the Chicago Cubs handling of Matt Garza, all signs point to Price not coming back to Tampa next season. This is simply what the Rays do. It’s what’s helped them be a successful team despite playing in a small market.
That being said, the rumors have been flying at light speed all across the Internet. However, on Monday, it seemed that the possible destinations for Price had been narrowed down to three teams:
- Los Angeles Dodgers
- Seattle Mariners
- Texas Rangers
By Monday night, the rumors to Los Angeles had been quelled as Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times explained, the Dodgers might not have the top-flight prospects that the Rays are looking for. Then again, the Dodgers do have a few veterans, most notably Matt Kemp, at their disposal to get creative in terms of making trades.
That just leaves two teams left as final trade destinations for Price; technically. Now we learn that if Price does get shipped to Seattle, he will not sign a long-term deal with the team. Okay? So that just leaves Texas. If anybody has the deep pockets to sign a pitcher in his prime to a long-term deal, it’s the Rangers. But is that really a good fit for both team and player?
Let’s start with Seattle first. If Price does not believe the Mariners are not interested in winning, he needs to put on his nerd glasses and see the baseball landscape that’s unfolding outside of his little, tiny world. As we’ve mentioned before, the Mariners have a farm system full of talent. Of course, the prospects won’t be with Seattle for much longer if Tampa gets their way in a trade involving Price. Nevertheless, the Mariners will be able to hold on to some of their homegrown talent and continue to sign big-name free agents for years to come as they have this enormous TV deal worth about $2 billion that is going to help them become a force in baseball. And who would want to face a one-two combination that has both Price and Felix Hernandez at the top of the starting rotation?
Although the numbers do back up Safeco Field’s reputation of being a pitcher’s park, Mariners’ management decided to move the fences in for the 2013 campaign. How did the new dimensions affect hitters last season? For that, we take a look at Safeco’s Park Factors’ rankings in the last three seasons.
Safeco Field Park Factors’ Rankings
Without a doubt, the new dimensions at Safeco helped immensely to generate more offense. Also worth noting is that Price has not pitched at Safeco in the last three seasons. Perhaps unfamiliarity with the field plays a role in his decision to not want to sign long-term.
So that leaves the Texas Rangers. Just like the Mariners, the Rangers have some money to play with. Unlike the Marines, the Rangers do not have the prospects that the Rays are looking for. If there’s a team looking to add depth to their pitching staff, it’s the Rangers, but their hitter-friendly ballpark makes this a reluctant match. The Ballpark at Arlington ranked as one of the most hitter-friendly parks since 2010.
On the other hand, the Rangers can provide the type of run support that Price was lacking last season. Last year, Yu Darvish and Martin Perez enjoyed the Run Support Per Innings Pitched (RS/IP) they would receive from the Rangers’ lineup (at least 4.7 RS/IP). When Price won the Cy Young Award, he received 5.3 RS/IP, but last season, he only had 3.7 RS/IP to work with. Then again, the Rays had no problems getting runs for Matt Moore and Jeremy Hellickson.
In 19 innings playing on the road against the Texas Rangers in the last two seasons, Price has compiled a 2-1 record, giving up very few walks and posting a respectable K/9, but has given up an OPS of .777, a BABIP of .325, posted an ERA of 4.49, and a WHIP of 1.27. Yes, it’s a very small sample, but it’s something to be mindful if we are to project his stats for next season. And again, Texas can be a very unforgiving place for a starting pitcher.
For some perspective, in that same time span, Price has compiled the following numbers at Tropicana Field:
David Price At Tropicana Field Since 2012
It’s understandable that playing in the comfort of a place one has called home in the last two seasons plays a major role for his success at Tropicana, but it’s worth mentioning that the park has been rated as one of the more pitcher-friendly ballparks since 2010.
And even though the Dodgers’ chances of acquiring Price might be dwindling, it would appear that this would be the ideal destination for Price. A rotation that features lefties Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu along with Price will create a nightmare for opposing teams. Plus Dodgers Stadium has been a steady, pitcher-friendly ballpark since 2010. And of course, Magic Johnson and Company have the deep pockets to sign Price to a long-term deal and the competitive fire to field a good team on a year-to-year basis.
In conclusion, all three teams have their own unique advantages and offer something different for Price and his future success. Los Angeles would be the place to be for Price, but more than likely, he will end up in Seattle. That is to say, he would get shipped to Seattle, but he does not picture himself playing there past the 2015 (maybe sooner?) season. So by this rationale, the Rangers might be the team to be able to snag Price, but they lack the commodities to acquire him and pitching in Texas can be an overwhelming experience. XN Sports will continue to monitor this story as it unfolds.