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Will the Mariners’ next big move be for David Price?

Dec 6, 2013, 1:23 PM EDT

Division Series - Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox - Game Two Getty Images

Now that the Mariners have signed Robinson Cano for $240 million there’s tons of speculation about their next big move, since the consensus is that Seattle has significant payroll space left to spend and remains aggressive on a number of trade and free agent fronts.

Making a run at David Price would be another huge splash, but Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reports that the Rays are insisting on stud pitching prospect Taijuan Walker being included in any potential deal.

Walker was a first-round pick in 2010 and made his MLB debut in August after throwing 141 innings with a 2.93 ERA and 160 strikeouts between Double-A and Triple-A at age 20. He’ll crack Baseball America‘s top-20 prospects for the third straight season and is basically MLB-ready, so parting with him (and, say, Nick Franklin) to acquire two years of a very expensive Price would represent a major win-now decision.

  1. raysfan1 - Dec 6, 2013 at 1:33 PM

    Signing Cano to a 10-year $240M deal that is virtually guaranteed to be an ugly albatross in the second half of the deal, if not sooner, was also a very expensive win now deal.

    • eddiek77 - Dec 6, 2013 at 7:45 PM

      If I had to bet, the Cano signing will mean the floodgates are open….as well as the checkbook….and the Yankees will be putting a lot of new, high priced, established talent on the field next year. I had to laugh that people are mentioning the Pirates in the same breath as Price. As time goes by, it’s apparent that the stars aligned last year and that the management team is again either looking for reclamation projects (Lane Berkman? Rafael Furcal?) or affordable free agents in the second or third tier (Cory Hart). Picking up a Frankie Liriano in the offseason is just not the same as going after a David Price. It’s just not in the Pirates methodology. It’s easier to cry poor.

  2. nymets4ever - Dec 6, 2013 at 1:34 PM

    Felix is awesome and Iwakuma is really good too. Taijuan Walker is supposed to be the real deal. So why would you bankrupt the farm for another big pitcher? They would be better off filling out the rest of the rotation with the Arroyos of the world and saving their blue chippers to land a big bat thru the trade market. A Bautista or Encarnacion.

    • spudchukar - Dec 6, 2013 at 1:52 PM

      Because the farm wouldn’t be bankrupt, nor the bank for that matter. Walker, who Price would replace, Franklin, who has no where to play with the addition of Cano, and maybe Ackley or whoever.

      Then use their Nintendo connections to secure Tanaka, and add Napoli and another left-hand hitting DH/outfielder and they become as good as anybody, and still have Paxton et al, and lots of cash due to their free $25 thanks to MLB, brand new TV deal in 2015, and a return to near 4 mil a year attendance.

      The Mario brothers are doing back-flips.

      • jdillydawg - Dec 6, 2013 at 4:24 PM

        I don’t have a lot of confidence in the Nintendo connection. Since trading Ichiro, they’ve been an even more distant owner of the team than they were previously (which was pretty distant!). I could be wrong, but I hope they have a backup plan if Tanaka is really on their radar.

    • byjiminy - Dec 6, 2013 at 2:32 PM

      I hit the thumbs up button a little too early. I jumped the gun while reading “They would be better off filling out the rest of the rotation with the Arroyos of the world and saving their blue chippers” because I totally agreed — and then it finished “…to land a big bat through the trade market.” End that sentence just before there, and I’m with you.

      The Taijuan Walker types are exactly who you build your team around. You already have two max contracts; you can’t fill an entire team that way.

      Over the hill sluggers are a dime a dozen, or at least are readily available for overpaid contracts. You don’t have to give up top prospects as well.

      • jdillydawg - Dec 6, 2013 at 4:39 PM

        “The Taijuan Walker types are exactly who you build your team around.”

        Unless you’re the Mariners. I wouldn’t be surprised one bit if they trade him away.

        The most likely scenario, given past history, is that they bring in Price and one other high paid guy, they get midway through the season at sub-500, realize they aren’t going anywhere, and then have a fire sale.

        I hate that I’m this cynical about my own team but they KILL me!

    • shawnuel - Dec 6, 2013 at 4:40 PM

      Excellent point. Don’t see the poiont of mortgaging the farm for Price. I would also mention Kemp or Billy Butler. Royals need a SS and Franklin + could fit the bill. If they eat most of Kemps Salary they wouldn’t have to throw TOO much LA’s way. I would be willing to go Santana/Garza/Jimenez as a FA hurler.

      • spc7ray - Dec 7, 2013 at 5:34 PM

        Not Kemp–Hes a Dodger

  3. stoutfiles - Dec 6, 2013 at 1:39 PM

    If Walker is so good, then just keep him. Fill out the rest of the team with the money you’ve got left, there are a lot of holes everywhere. One pitcher is not going to make the difference.

    • byjiminy - Dec 6, 2013 at 2:34 PM

      Especially if the good, expensive, veteran pitcher costs you a good, young, cheap pitcher!

  4. alexo0 - Dec 6, 2013 at 1:39 PM

    I think if they really want to upgrade, it’s better to spend their prospects on a legit hitter. Would the Marlins at least listen for Stanton if the M’s had a package that began with Walker?

  5. spudchukar - Dec 6, 2013 at 1:39 PM

    No that will come right after the Napoli and Tanaka signings.

  6. phillysports1 - Dec 6, 2013 at 1:40 PM

    They still need more offense .

  7. phillysports1 - Dec 6, 2013 at 1:44 PM

    Trade Ryan Howard for Smoak . … I wish

    • spudchukar - Dec 6, 2013 at 1:47 PM

      If the Phillies would eat most of the money, it would be an improvement, but sounds like Napoli will be their first baseman.

  8. phillysports1 - Dec 6, 2013 at 1:51 PM

    Not going happen lol Our GM is a guy by the name of Ruben Amaro JR

  9. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Dec 6, 2013 at 1:51 PM

    Cano’s bat should still make him a very good 1B later in the contract, so they should look to win now AND later. Keep the kids and sign a different pitcher. Go after Tanaka, or use the park to their advantage and sign some fly-bally pitchers and get some super speedy OFs. Let some wealthy team overpay for Price.

  10. hittfamily - Dec 6, 2013 at 2:02 PM

    I like fangraphs. I like Dave Cameron. I like Math. I like baseball. Apparently, i am now in the slow classes though. David Price = 30 mil in excess value, at fangraphs. The thinking is that Price is a known commodity, so there is a really good chance he produces 9 WAR over the next 2 years, considering he has been worth consistently roughly 4.5 WAR each of the last 4years. . If 1 WAR is = 6 mil, and he is paid 30 mil through arb, then 9×6-30=24 mil in excess value. I think David gets more than 6 mil on the free market though. If Price was a free agent, and required to sign a 2year deal, 60 mil seems about right. So I think Price has 30 mil of excess value. I keep hearing that “so and so” prospect has x much value though. Eno Saris says the 6th best prospect in baseball, Twins, has 120mil in excess value, and absolutely should not be taded forPrice.

    I agree with the idea. I disagree with the guarantee Fangraphs put on prospects. They think all prospects hit, and that Andrew Friedman was taking a massive dump and forgot about sure thing top ten prospects Reid Brignac, Wade Davis, and Jeremy Hellickson.

    David Price has 30 mil in almost guaranteed excess value. If I’m on deal or no deal, and I get offered a guaranteed 30 mil, I need more than a %30 chance than that a top prospect hits. You better come outswinging with prospects 1,2, and 3.

    Delmon Young. Jeff Niemann. Tim Beckham. Josh Sale. (Top10 picks)

    • spudchukar - Dec 6, 2013 at 2:19 PM

      Ya win some, ya lose some, and the Rays have had more than their share of successes.

    • byjiminy - Dec 6, 2013 at 2:56 PM

      I agree in that prospects are much, much more likely to fail than David Price. But I still would not do this trade.

      First of all, it’s only two years of Price, versus seven for the prospect at a lower total cost.

      Second, while the prospect is much more likely to flame out, Price’s flame-out percentage is not zero. All pitchers are injury risks.

      Third, the money. Odds are Price will be worth well over the $30 million you’re paying him, but that doesn’t mean the salary is bargain basement; guaranteed money should take into account the very, very high rate of injury and failure.

      It’s only in free agency that doesn’t happen, and people get paid for implausible blue sky scenarios.

      In fact, while I agree with most of your math, I think you err in equating value with free agent price. The cost of a win on the free agent market is not the value of a win. The average cost of a win is much, much lower. Free agent costs are almost by definition an overpay. You use them to fill holes. You don’t build your whole team that way.

      The only way to build a winning TEAM is to get lucky with some young prospects. Even the Yankees need young, cheap stars like (early) Jeter, Williams, Mo, Cano, etc.

      I know a single example is not statistically significant, but the idea of trading Walker to get nearer the big boys reminds me so much of the Royals swapping Wil Myers for James Shields. That trade made me so, so sad the moment it happened. For years, we’d been hearing that the Royals endless rebuilding process was about to bear fruit. For years, it never happened. Finally, finally, finally, the moment seemed to arrive. And they blew it by trying to rush things, trading a huge amount of future upside for a small amount of short-term certainty, which didn’t even get them to the playoffs.

      The only way to get anywhere is to have a few young players turn out to be Felix Hernandez.

      And the worst thing you can do is trade a guy who turns out to be Felix Hernandez.

      I’m not saying you should never trade a prospect. Clearly, the Rays won the Delmon Young trade! And if you could get a YOUNG stud bat like Stanton, sure, trade Walker. Just don’t do it for an old, expensive player, whose upside is a few years of maybe outperforming his huge contract.

      • hittfamily - Dec 8, 2013 at 9:17 AM

        Look at the last few aces that have been traded though. Cliff Lee was traded twice, and none of the prospects turned into anything. CC Sabathia was traded. Is Matt Laporta even in organized baseball? Greinke was dealt to the Brewers. Is Alcides Escobar a deal breaker now that he has matured? Greinke was dealt to the Angels. That one looks like a win for the Brewers. Mat Latos was dealt for Yonder and a PED using catcher. The Rays hit on Shields for Myers for sure.

        It’s a crapshoot. I don’t like how fangraphs puts numbers like “120 mil in excess value” on AAA players. To me, you have to take what they might one day become, then divide that by 3, because only about a third of top prospects pan out. So while Price has $30 mil in excess value, the top prospect in the game has $40 mil. If you are ready to compete now, the way the Mariners and Diamondbacks appear to be, that 10 mil in excess value is chump change. The Mariners have a good squad. They only have to be the 5th best team in the AL to go to the playoffs. They only have to be the 7th best or so to drum up playoff interest.

        If I’m running that team, I give up 10 mil in excess value, especially after dropping 240 mil in Cano, to have a rotation of Felix Hernandez, David Price, Hishashi Iwakuma, and Larry Bernandez. For every Evan Longoria and David Price, cornerstone homegrown talent, there are also Jeff Niemanns, Wade Davis’, Wade Townsends, Jermy Hellickson’s, Reid Brignac’s, and a long list of Baseball America top 50’s that never come through. Maybe you are in fact trading away the next Evan Longoria, but you are more likely trading away the next Delmon Young.

  11. pastabelly - Dec 6, 2013 at 2:30 PM

    Since they are stuck with Cano’s contract forever, they should keep Walker, who is under cost control for a while. Adopting any other strategy will get them to 2013 NY Yankee hell without YES revenues. If they want to “go for it” the next couple of years, a better option might be Napoli/Drew.

  12. thepoolshark - Dec 6, 2013 at 3:21 PM

    They do not need Price at that cost of prospects. Napoli at first and Beltran for DH would be better money spent. If Walker pans out, they have a BIG 3 rotation already. Trade Ackley and/or Franklin for a decent #4 like Porcello and you have a very good rotation. Add some pop, and they will compete with anyone with Felix, Iwakuma, and Walker. They also have Hultzen and others on the way, don’t strip the farm for Price

    • sincitybonobo - Dec 6, 2013 at 4:51 PM

      Napoli would help this team immensely. Along with a table setter at the top of the order.

      • sincitybonobo - Dec 6, 2013 at 4:53 PM

        Napoli 2013 OPS .842. M’s .695

    • hittfamily - Dec 8, 2013 at 9:23 AM

      You assume Walker is good though. They invested over 100 mil on Felix and 240 mil on Cano. What if Walker is Luke Hochevar? Zach Britton? Michael Pineda?

      That team with David Price is better than the Angels, Rangers, Astros, and really pushing the A’s. That team with Luke Hochevar, is just another high payroll team that missed the playoffs by a few games.

  13. sincitybonobo - Dec 6, 2013 at 3:49 PM

    The M’s were 2nd in MLB in HR last season. I would not have guessed that. But, 85 of those are gone- Ibanez, Morales, Bay, Morse, and Gutierrez. Ibanez had 29 dingers and only 69 RBI. That’s not easy to do.

    However, they were only 22nd in Runs and 26th in OBP. Even with Cano, this team needs more thunder and some guys who can set the table. A .695 OPS isn’t going to get it done.

    A full year from Cano and Zunino will help. Even though I could run faster than Morales, he could help the M’s if they offered him a multi-year deal.

    The reason not to trade Walker is that they were 26th in ERA. Walker can help them at a controlled cost for years to come. For the ERA to be that high with Felix and Iwakuma, the pen and the back end of the rotation need some work. Arroyo at the right price would be a good sign.

    They need to bump that OPS by at least 40 points to have a realistic chance of contending. Another arm can be had at the deadline, if need be.

    • sincitybonobo - Dec 6, 2013 at 4:03 PM

      If Friedman inquired about my top prospect, I’d hang up on him and block his number.

  14. jdillydawg - Dec 6, 2013 at 4:11 PM

    I hear a lot of talk about how good the Mariner’s Farm System is.

    It would be so incredibly ironic if after all the years of spewing about how they are building for the future they wind up trading it away rather than letting it work.

    That would put them right up there with Steve Sarkisian for “most honest with the fans” award.

    • sincitybonobo - Dec 6, 2013 at 4:39 PM

      Most of their top prospects are pitchers. No way would I trade Walker when he could help a team ERA that needs help at a controlled cost.

      Offense is what they need. Even upgrading to league average at some positions would help.

      This stat says it all- STL hit 63 fewer HR than SEA last year, yet scored 159 more runs. The success with RISP helps, but the 48 point OPS advantage is quite telling as well.

  15. cackalackyank - Dec 6, 2013 at 5:47 PM

    Remember how Seattle was crowned a contender when they got Cliff Lee. That lasted for what….about four months if I remember correctly.

    • jdillydawg - Dec 7, 2013 at 1:05 PM

      Thanks Cack. I had put that awful memory to rest until you had to remind me…


  16. anxovies - Dec 6, 2013 at 5:55 PM

    The Mariners have built around pitching for years with no success in reaching the post season. Pitching works once you are in the playoffs but it takes hitting to get you there. Note that in the Mariner heydays of the the late 90s and early 2000 they had the likes of Junior, ARod, Edgar, et al. Cano is a start but they had better be looking to trade some of that pitching talent for hitting. There’s a reason that King Felix had a 2.27 ERA and a 1.057 WHIP in 2010 but was 12-13 WL.

    • sincitybonobo - Dec 6, 2013 at 6:11 PM

      No doubt. Seager is a quality major leaguer, but he’s the returning leader in OPS at .764. It gets ugly from there. Peguero hits the hell out of the ball, but he’s 27 and vulnerable to the strikeout. Not much offensive help immediately available in-house. Table setters and thump are sorely needed.

      • jdillydawg - Dec 7, 2013 at 1:09 PM

        Seager is one of my favorite players. I watched him play AAA in Tacoma and then saw him a week later at Safeco when he got called up. Big heart, solid talent. He was called up with two or three other players that week if I recall, but he was the only one who stuck. It made me think twice about how solid the farm system really was.

        Or, as Meatloaf would have sung it, “1 out of 3 ain’t bad.”

  17. spc7ray - Dec 7, 2013 at 5:41 PM

    The Dodgers could offer the most for Price if they want to==Money and players==They have the players they can trade prospects and players like Eithier and Crawford==They certainly have the money–I think Price is worth more money than Tanaka–But Price will cost players and money–That said Tanka will probably cost too much money and The Yanks and Mariners certainly will overpay for him–Im not sure he is as good as Darvish–Very hard to tell–I would go after Price -Im sure the Dodgers could get a good deal done–Just don’t trade Kemp

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