Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Trade Fair: For St. Louis the Price is right

Believe it or not, we're already past the mathematical midpoint of the season.  And believe it or not, the Cardinals are 44-39.  A decent record, but one that would leave them out of the playoffs if the season ended on June 30th.

St. Louis' pitching -- more specifically, it's pitching health -- has been its Achilles heel this year.  Despite a sterling 10-4, 2.01 mark, Adam Wainwright has battled elbow inflammation and recently missed a start, while shoulder ailments have forced Michael Wacha and Jaime Garcia to join Joe Kelly and his sore hamstring on the disabled list. 

And to make matters worse, Shelby Miller has been plagued by inconsistency after a solid rookie campaign in 2013.

What St. Louis needs is a rotation stalwart, a guy who can take the ball every fifth day and give the bullpen a reprieve by going  seven, eight, or even nine innings while stifling even the toughest opposing lineups.  David Price is that guy.

Has anything gone right for the Rays in 2014? Serious injuries to Matt Moore (Tommy John Surgery), Jeremy Hellickson (arthroscopic elbow surgery), and Alex Cobb (oblique strain), left the pitching staff in tatters for most of the first half, while subpar performances by virtually all key position players have severely weakened the lineup.  The end result has been a 36-49 record, the worst in the American League.

Even Yogi Berra would admit that the Rays' season is essentially over, and, given the Rays' financial constraints, it's time for GM Andrew Friedman to start shedding marketable assets and position the team for the future.  He should start with Price, the organization's most coveted player.

The Trade:  The Rays trade Price to the Cardinals for OF Stephen Piscotty, RHP CarlosMartinez, and LHP Rob Kaminsky.

What the Cardinals are getting:  A stud, plain and simple.  Much has been written about Price's diminished stuff, but according to Fan Graphs, Price's fastball velocity in his last five starts -- a stretch in which he's struck out at least ten hitters in each outing -- is at a two-year high, and the movement on his renowned slider is nearly as good as ever.  Price would serve as the ideal left-handed foil to Wainwright, and, along with the reliable Lance Lynn, would give St. Louis the starting troika necessary to repel all Wild Card challengers and advance deep into October.

Price, who's not a free agent until after the 2015 season, would be available to the Cardinals for two stretch runs, which should substantially increase the Rays' asking price.

What the Rays are getting:  Tampa GM Andrew Friedman will surely ask for hotshot OF prospect Oscar Taveras, a request that Cardinals boss John Mozeliak will certainly rebuke in this era of suppressed offense.  However, a Piscotty/Martinez/Kaminsky package makes for an excellent consolation prize. 

Piscotty, 23, has a skill set similar to the Rays' currently disabled wunderkind Wil Myers, except Piscotty has slightly less power and walks more.  He can play either outfield corner and is hitting .312/.373/.444 at Triple A.

Martinez, who's alternated between starting and relieving at the big league level, is a flamethrower with enough secondary pitches to make it as a #3 starter.  The 22-year-old Dominican has a WHIP of 1.33 and 3.48 ERA in 48 major league innings this season.

Kaminsky, 19, would be much more than just a throw-in.  The southpaw was St. Louis' first round pick last year and is currently eating up Low A hitters to the tune of a 1.26 ERA, 0.900 WHIP, and 47 strikeouts in 50 innings.

In exchange for 1.5 years of Price, the Rays would be getting 17.5 years of control of the three aforementioned prospects.


Anonymous said...

I'm a Cards fan and I think that's a reasonable trade. All three of the proposed Cards players are high quality, so they should meet the Rays' needs, but the Cards have enough other young players that losing those guys wouldn't decimate their younger ranks.

Andrew T. said...

The Rays hang up if that's the package.