The David Price sweepstakes is expected to heat up later this week, multiple executives with interest in the left-handed ace told Yahoo Sports, as the Tampa Bay Rays begin to survey the market for the former Cy Young winner and consider whether to trade him.
The Seattle Mariners, Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels, Pittsburgh Pirates, Texas Rangers, Arizona Diamondbacks and Toronto Blue Jays are among the teams that not only have an interest in Price but believe they can put together the sort of package to pry Price from the Rays, sources said.
The 28-year-old Price immediately would be the most sought-after name on the trade market, and teams expect him to net a far bigger package than the Wil Myers-headlined deal Tampa Bay received from Kansas City last season. Despite the potential for $30 million in salary over the next two seasons before he hits free agency after 2015, Price is a rare commodity – an available ace – that is drawing interest accordingly.
A number of baseball officials believe the Mariners are a strong candidate to acquire Price, especially if they land free-agent second baseman Robinson Cano. The Mariners have considered including 21-year-old right-hander Taijuan Walker as part of a deal for Price, sources told Yahoo Sports, knowing he represents the sort of frontline player the Rays would seek in such a trade. Packaging him along with a young middle infielder (Nick Franklin or Brad Miller) and other prospects would constitute a difficult-to-top offer – and give the Mariners a rotation of Price, Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma, the best 1-2-3 in the major leagues.
On Wednesday, as speculation about the Mariners' interest in Cano grew, general manager Jack Zduriencik told Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune: "Always have felt there would be a time where we have to augment this club. I think we're at that time."
Rival officials told Yahoo Sports the Rays aren't necessarily inclined to go strictly for a package of young players, either. Were a team to offer an established major league player with a team-friendly contract as the headliner, the Rays have indicated they would consider that sort of a deal as well.
Executives concede Tampa Bay is dealing from a strong position with Price. The Rays certainly don't need to trade him – they're coming off their fourth playoff appearance in six years and have room in their budget for him this season – but also understand they're likelier to extract more value by dealing him with two full years. Should they compete as expected, trading him in July would be difficult to fathom even for the Rays, one of the most creative teams in the game.
Because they have few apparent weaknesses, Tampa Bay is expected to enter negotiations without targeting a specific position, though officials believe they'll want at least one major league-ready pitcher to join a rotation with Alex Cobb, Matt Moore, Chris Archer and Jeremy Hellickson.
In six seasons, Price is 71-39 with a 3.19 ERA in 973 innings. He has struck out 876, walked 286, led the American League in strikeout-to-walk ratio at 5.59 last season and won the 2012 AL Cy Young.