COMMENTARY | As soon as the Tampa Bay Rays' season came to an end, and before the body was even cold, the talk around the team turned immediately to the fate of pitcher David Price and the one year left on his contract.
The Rays' financial limitations prevent them from signing their own top players as free agents. In years past, they would let the player reach free agency and then take the draft-pick compensation from whomever signed him.
That system changed with the recent adjustment to the MLB collective bargaining agreement, which modifies what kind of draft pick you get as compensation and how much you can spend on the draft.
So, the Rays got even smarter and last year they tried something new -- trading away a top player before he reached free agency. And the results were spectacular. In order to get pitcher James Shields, the Kansas City Royals gave the Rays the top prospect in baseball and this year's likely AL Rookie of the Year, Wil Myers (along with three other pretty darn good prospects).
When the rumors began swirling that Price would be available this offseason, every team in the league immediately checked its farm system to figure out what it might take to acquire last year's Cy Young Award winner.
Well, every team except the Los Angeles Angels. They already know that they don't have anything in their farm system -- easily one of the worst in the league -- gutted by bad trades and lost draft picks for free agents.
If you're in a bar and Kate Upton walks in, it's a waste of your night to even try to get close to her. But don't just give up and go home. Maybe take a shot at that good-looking girl at the end of the bar who looks like she's spent most of the day crying.
I'm going to let you in on a little secret: Cliff Lee was one of the top three pitchers in the NL this year. Yes, he's wildly overpaid with three years and more than $75 million due to him. However, this sounds almost exactly like the Angels' "type" if ever there was one.
Money doesn't really matter here -- actually, the Angels' payroll was down last year even with the Josh Hamilton signing. The Angels are not a team without trade chips, and they also have the kind of financial resources that few teams have.
There were already rumors the team would trade second baseman Howie Kendrick -- who could be replaced in the lineup by the recently acquired Grant Green. Or they could trade Green.
The team also has Mark Trumbo and Peter Bourgos who are somewhat redundant on the team. I know Angels fans love Trumbo, but his non-home run numbers are awful and besides, nothing cures a broken heart better than winning games.
The key in this scenario is Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. If he still mistakenly thinks the Phillies have any shot at competing, this trade won't happen.
The good news is that this is the guy who traded for the $15 million Michael Young before last season. Amaro clearly disagrees with advanced metrics (please also see the horrifying contracts of Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard), so Trumbo would be very enticing.
Throw in a couple of prospects and we're really close here. The Angels could even let Amaro pay some of Lee's contract if he wants to keep squandering his team's resources.
This trade would give the Angels an impressive starting rotation that consists of Lee, Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson. And with Garrett Richards and a Jason Vargas-like pitcher, you have the makings of a dominant staff.
Then the team just needs to get some bullpen help -- lot of bullpen help, actually. The Angels already have one of league's top offenses and a move to get the more attainable Cliff Lee would drastically increase their playoff odds next season.
And maybe that girl at the end of the bar will end up being the girl popping champagne bottles in celebration with you.
Jed Rigney is a Los Angeles-based award-winning filmmaker who also fancies himself a baseball writer. He is the lead humor columnist at Through The Fence Baseball. You can visit him on Twitter @JedRigney.
- Sports & Recreation
- Cliff Lee
- The Rays
- Tampa Bay Rays