COMMENTARY | The talk has been out there for a while now: Tampa Bay Rays left-hander David Price will be eligible for arbitration again this winter and the club's prospects of keeping the 2012 Cy Young Award winner for the long term are slim, at best.
So why couldn't the New York Yankees take a run at the 28-year-old?
Price has been everything the Rays could have hoped for when they took him first overall in the 2007 amateur draft out of Vanderbilt.
He made his big-league debut in September 2008 and did a little bit to help Tampa Bay reach its first World Series, such as saving Game 7 of the American League Championship Series against the Boston Red Sox.
Since then, Price has been an anchor in the Rays' rotation, going 71-39 over the last five seasons with a 3.21 ERA and 1.162 WHIP.
Frankly, he's the left-handed ace the Yankees had in CC Sabathia. That is before Sabathia suddenly morphed into CC Sabathia, fourth guy in the rotation, in 2013.
So what would it take to pry Price away from the Rays? Considering the Yankees are a divisional rival in the American League East, a king's ransom, if Tampa Bay is willing to deal its ace within the division at all.
The Rays want young players, guys still under team control and preferably either still in the minor leagues but major league ready or, if they're already in the show, players who are not yet arbitration eligible.
The Yankees don't have a ton of prospects who fit the bill, but they might be able to put a package together built around young outfielder Mason Williams and left-hander Manny Banuelos.
Banuelos will be 23 next March, has spent parts of two seasons at the Triple-A level already and was a top-15 prospect according to MLB.com prior to the 2012 season.
One teensy-weensy little problem: Banuelos is coming off Tommy John surgery. But Banuelos did throw in the instructional league in Florida and, according to The Journal News in White Plains, N.Y., was hitting 94 mph. He also had a solid changeup and was getting his breaking ball over the plate and is expected to be ready to go to start spring training.
Williams, meanwhile, hit .261/.327/.350 in 461 plate appearances with High-A Tampa before earning a late-season call-up to Double-A Trenton, where he struggled, hitting .153/.164/.264 with 18 strikeouts in just 76 plate appearances. Still, he is only 22 years old and is the prototypical speedy center fielder. He's also a Florida product, from Winter Garden, Fla., just outside of Orlando.
A second arm, perhaps a reliever such as Mark Montgomery, the 23-year-old right-handed strikeout machine with the nasty slider, could sweeten the deal enough for the Rays to consider it.
Is it crazy to think this deal could happen? Absolutely. But that's the fun of the offseason and the hot stove league in general, thinking up deals that are just crazy enough that they might actually work.
Phil Watson is a freelance commentator and journalist who covers the New York Yankees, Brooklyn Nets and New York Giants for the Yahoo Contributor Network. He is also editor of brewers101.com and holds an editorial position at HoopsHabit.com.
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