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The Mariners aren’t as serious about trading for David Price as we thought

Dec 10, 2013, 7:03 AM EDT

David Price AP

Jon Heyman reports that the Mariners believe David Price “would be theirs” if they agree to include Taijuan Walker in a trade but that, welp, they don’t want to include Walker in a trade. Or James Paxton for that matter. Rather, they’d like to build a trade for Price around position players. Presumably Dustin Ackley and Nick Franklin and guys like that.

Which, hey, good for them. But that’s not gonna get a trade for Price done.

And that may not be a bad thing. Walker, 21, is the Mariners top prospect and, depending on who you listen to, is someplace in the top five overall. He┬áspent most of 2013 going between Double-A Jackson and Triple-A Tacoma, posting an aggregate 2.93 ERA in 141.1 innings. He’s a guy who the M’s can and should expect to slot in behind Felix Hernandez for a long time and he should not be traded unless it’s for a damn good reason.

Price is a damn good player, of course, but he’s one who is only under team control for two more seasons and who will make a lot of money during that time. For him to stay around a lot longer it’ll take one of the larger long-term contracts a starting pitcher has ever received.

If the M’s are prepared to do that in addition to what they’ve spent on Robinson Cano — and if they’re prepared to continue to make moves to shore up the many weak spots on their team — well, cool, pull that trigger. But if they expect to make oly two big splashes and then let Price walk in two years, well, that won’t get it done and it will have made losing Walker a really bad choice in my view.

So: absent a change of plans, let us turn our attention more toward the Rangers, Dodgers and other teams who have been linked with Price.

  1. darthicarus - Dec 10, 2013 at 7:09 AM

    In an odd twist after this Heyman report came out the Mariners countered his statement by saying they were willing to offer Walker, Ackley, Paxton, & Franklin after hearing another team was offering a few position players for Price.

  2. offthelows - Dec 10, 2013 at 7:18 AM

    This is reassuring… Never understood the Walker or even Paxton talk with Price. If there’s a 5-6 year window with Cano, both would be with the club for that period, while Price could be gone after 2 at a much higher relative cost. For a solid rotation, both Walker and Paxton fit into a #4 or #5 slot, they’ve gotten away with a big hole in those spots the last few years and paid the price. They have a pitcher’s park, it’s the bats they have trouble attracting in free agency, so you sign pitchers and trade for bats.

    • paperlions - Dec 10, 2013 at 8:03 AM

      Exactly. You make moves to maximize the number of opportunities you will have to make the playoffs. If they think Walker is ready for the majors and won’t be too far off of what they would get from Price, it makes far more sense to keep him. It isn’t like the M’s have a lot of guys that are getting old or leaving in a year or 2. In short, there is no reason (and especially NOT the Cano contract) to go into win now mode, they should be in “build an annual contender mode”, because they have the farm system and money to be able to compete every year….if they would stop doing dumb things, like filling the roster with DHs….and, well, if they could figure out how to more effectively develop their position players since their recent record is pretty much Seagar and a bunch of under performing guys (though Miller looked fine in a SSS).

    • spudchukar - Dec 10, 2013 at 8:18 AM

      No reason for Price to be gone after 2 though. With all the added revenue the Mariners have coming their way, they could easily handle a 150mil dollar payroll.

      It is a hard call. Maybe they would be better off aiming for the future, with Walker or Paxton and the other youngsters still developing. But the brass might believe they need another splash to really excite the fans, and likewise compete in 2014, which they would certainly do with Price, and the loss of Ackley, Walker/Paxton, and Franklin, assuming that would get it done, wouldn’t be that much of a blow to team. Prince would certainly be a replacement for the young duo, Franklin has no place to play with Cano, and Ackley hasn’t shown his promise, and as a CF could easily be replaced, in house if necessary.

      • paperlions - Dec 10, 2013 at 9:25 AM

        But you have to act like he is going to be gone. There is a 0% chance he doesn’t go to FA unless he is offered a crazy stupid contract and you can’t bank on winning the bidding war when he is a FA.

        The team is still full of holes (like all 3 OF spots). If they can get 80% of what they would get from Price from Walker, then they can use that money for outfield help.

      • spudchukar - Dec 10, 2013 at 9:49 AM

        Just lost another lengthy post to miserable Word Press. Basically I agree the Mariners still have holes. Saunders is pretty solid. The Ackley move to center is questionable, and they need a first baseman and RF/LF.

        Maybe a DH too, although they could keep Montero/ as a 3rd Catcher in emergency platoon DH guy, maybe, but Smoak could be DFA’d.

        I just believe Seattle is a major market team. Easily handling a 150mil payroll annually. They have a new TV deal next year, which should set them up handsomely, and they have drawn 4mil in a sports crazy city.

      • paperlions - Dec 10, 2013 at 10:06 AM

        I agree with all of that…but none of it means that they should pay in top end prospects AND in dollars for players. They would be much better served trying to get Tanaka or filling a spot with Garza and keeping their prospects. Talent is the limiting factor, if you can acquire talent spending money instead, then you should.

      • spudchukar - Dec 10, 2013 at 10:11 AM

        I think they can and should acquire Tanaka, Choo, and Price. They would still have the cash to take on another 10-15 for a first baseman and DH, and stay under 150mil for 2014.

  3. proudlycanadian - Dec 10, 2013 at 7:36 AM

    Time for “The Mystery Team” to be revealed.

  4. proudlycanadian - Dec 10, 2013 at 7:50 AM

    I doubt that a Price trade is imminent; however, I want to know if Craig has the inside scoop on Rajai Davis. The base stealer is rumored to be about to sign with someone in the next couple of days. Teams that have been mentioned include the Tigers, Twins and Orioles. He may be a thief on the field, but off the field, he seems to be a very nice person.

  5. hittfamily - Dec 10, 2013 at 8:02 AM

    The failure rate of SP in baseball is really high. Other than Greinke, the Royals hadn’t graduated a solid pitcher to the mlb since Saberhgen. So they went out and got 2 good ones. They were playing meaningful baseball until game 158. They were 2.5 games out of the wild card on Sept 21. 2 starting pitchers made them a playoff caliber squad.

    David Price for 2 years at the cost of your best AAA player and your backup second baseman? It should be a no doubter, if you can afford it. Matt Moore was supposed to be the next David Price. He’s been Phil Hughes. Alex Cobb was rated as the Rays 15th best prospect when 2012 began. He was a line drive away from being top 5 in Cy Young voting. Pitching is so unpredictable, it’s better to take the sure thing.

    The Mariners have been non-existant for a decade. Felix, Price, Iwakuma, Ramirez, Paxton/Walker is a playoff caliber rotation. Felix, Iwakuma, Ramirez, Walker, Paxton isn’t.

    Angels front runners now? Rangers added Prince and Profar to the lineup. Mariners added Cano + Cruz/Choo. A’s beat them by 30 games. They don’t want to finish behind the Astros do they?

    • paperlions - Dec 10, 2013 at 8:07 AM

      Of course, if pitching is really that unpredictable, the logic dictates that the Rays should want more than that for Price. You can’t argue that Walker should be expendable because “mileage may vary” on pitching prospects and in the same breath suggest that he should be essentially enough to get Price (since Franklin’s ceiling is average regular). Well, you can, but there is a problem with logical inconsistency.

      • hittfamily - Dec 10, 2013 at 8:47 AM

        There’s not a problem with my logic. Walker has tremendous upside He could very well be David Price one day. David Price is already David Price though, and he is being paid like he’s David Price, which the Rays can’t afford. In a vacuum, where salaries don’t matter, 6 years of potential aren’t worth a healthy 2 years of a guy who finished 1st or second in Cy Young voting 2 of the last 4 years. Teams don’t operate i a vacuum though. The Rays are keeping the payroll under 65 mil. They have over 75 mil devoted to payroll next year. The Mariners have under 40 million devoted to payroll.

        I know the Rays really well. I know they’ve had projectors drooling for years. They’ve had Baseball America top 10 prospects succeed, and they’ve had top 10 prospects fail. Some, haven’t done either, and are solid, but not achieving the status most thought they would. Price and Longo lived up to expectations. Brignac, Delmon and Wade Davis busted big time. Upton, Moore, Jennings, and Hellickson are serviceable, some even good, but didn’t live up to top prospect status.

        Would I give up 6 years of Longo or Price to acquire 2 years of Felix Hernandez making 50% of his market value? No. 6 years of Brignac, Delmon, or Davis? Yes. 6 years of Upton, Jennings, Moore, or Hellickson? Maybe. It would depend on if I thought I was a playoff contender for the next 2 years. So, if the M’s think they are a playoff contender, I think they should pull the trigger. If they don’t, well, they never should have signed Cano. They now kinda have to think of themselves as playoff contenders.

      • paperlions - Dec 10, 2013 at 9:29 AM

        You said that the Mariners should value him less than the Rays do. It is the same logical inconsistency present in all biased homer trade suggestions when they play up the players they want to see their team trade away and try to minimize the value of the guys they want to see their team acquire. It sounds like like a fantasy football/baseball trade discussion.

        If the guys you’d like to see traded are so great, then you should want to see your team keep them, and if the guys you’d like to see your team acquire have so many warts, you shouldn’t want to see them on your team.

      • hittfamily - Dec 10, 2013 at 9:48 AM

        The Rays currently have 5 quality MLB starters in Price, Moore, Cobb, Archer, and Hellickson, but are currently over budget. They also have 3 more in Colome, Odorizzi, and Enny Romero who fared well in their limited starts.

        The Mariners on the other hand have 2 quality MLB starters, and gave 7 starts to Jeremy Bonderman. However, they have a loaded system, and are way under budget.

        Can you really not see why the same player might be valued differently depending on the organization he’s currently in? Right now, David Price is a luxury to the Rays, and cost controlled potential is a necessity. Right now, David Price is a necessity to the Mariners, and cost controlled potential is a luxury.

    • spudchukar - Dec 10, 2013 at 8:30 AM

      Hitt, some of your comment makes sense to me, until the Matt Moore/Phil Hughes comparison. Moore can lose command at times, but the dude is flat out nasty with shutout stuff. If I had to choose between Moore and Price, all things being equal I stick with Moore. With Cobb, Archer, and Odorizzi, and a possible Walker, the Rays would be set for a couple of years with no prohibited costs.

      If Walker was the choice, I think they could even package Rodriguez and Hellickson, and make a move for the first baseman they need, and would be the most complete team in Baseball next to the Cards at this point in the off-season.

      • hittfamily - Dec 10, 2013 at 9:07 AM

        Shutout stuff for like 4 innings, a run suppressing home field, and with baseball’s best defense behind him. You can’t walk 4+ guys per game and get away with it. He threw the lowest first pitch strike % in all of baseball at 50.1%. I watched him a lot last year. 90 pitches in the 4th inning wasn’t uncommon. His velocity was down from

        His fastball was down 2 mph from 2012. The good news is that even with that loss, he threw 6th hardest among all LHP starters. The bad news though, is a dramatic loss in velocity fora 24 year old is scary. Accompanied by a trip to the DL with elbow troubles….frightening. Moore could be great. He could also be Mark Prior or Kerry Wood, or….Phil Hughes. Big numbers early, followed by injury and mediocrity.

      • spudchukar - Dec 10, 2013 at 9:11 AM

        Phil Hughes was never in Matt Moore’s class.

      • hittfamily - Dec 10, 2013 at 9:15 AM

        Rodriguez and Hellickson are beyond expendable. If they could get Smoak, I’d do it. I agree that they are a very complete team, but I’m not confident in the rotation at all. Archer, Hellickson, Odorizzi are all massive question marks. Cobb and Moore are also question marks too. I could legitimately see either starting the all-star game. I could also see either with an ERA over 4. I love their offense and bullpen though, which is why I thought it was foolish to invest as much as they did in Heath Bell and Dejesus. Dejesus is a bargain for sure, but aging vet at market value has never been very successful for the Rays. I’d rather have a Guyer/Joyce platoon in left and use the DH to give Longo/Zobrist/Myers/Joyce/Hannigan a day off while keeping the bat in the lineup. Heath Bell: I don’t get it at all. 5 mil saved on him, and 6 mil saved on Dejesus would be a nice way to start negotiations for a Cobb or Jennings extension.

      • spudchukar - Dec 10, 2013 at 9:29 AM

        What have you been Smoaking? He is absolutely worthless. I look for him to be DFA’d by the Mariners.

      • hittfamily - Dec 10, 2013 at 9:33 AM

        Phil Hughes dominated the minors. Baseball America ranked him as the 4th best prospect in baseball in 2007. As a 23 year old, he went 8-3 with a 3.03 ERA and a k/9 over 10. His 24 year old season was mediocre, but propped up by a high total of 18 wins.

        Matt Moore dominated the minors. Baseball America ranked his as the top prospect in baseball in 2012. As a 23 year old, he went 11-11 with a 3.81 ERA and a k/9 rate just under 9. His 24 year old season was mediocre, but propped up by a high total of 17 wins.

        I see a few similarities.

      • spudchukar - Dec 10, 2013 at 9:55 AM

        I don’t. Hughes was overrated. His fastball is straight, and has little or no secondary pitches, and his command isn’t what it needs to be to rely solely on his heater.

        Moore, a left-hander to boot, has brilliant off-speed stuff, a lively fastball, and a top-notch breaking ball.

      • hittfamily - Dec 10, 2013 at 9:37 AM

        Hellickson is going to be expensive in arb. He currently isn’t very good. Smoak popped 20 homers last year, and would make a better first baseman than our current 1, Sean Rodriguez or maybe Vince Belnome. I wouldn’t do the deal straight up, but if adding in Helly and Seanrod entices the M’s to pull the trigger on a Walker/Franklin/Smoak deal, I’m good with it.

      • spudchukar - Dec 10, 2013 at 9:43 AM

        20 HRs for a power only guy at a corner position is sub-par. Joyce would be a better choice at first and is just as good defensively.

      • hittfamily - Dec 10, 2013 at 9:55 AM

        Smoak has a lot of similarities to Pena…Lots of power, highly regarded prospect, sporadic playing time, high K rate, good BB rate. I wouldn’t hate it if we let Shelton work a little of his Pena, Kotchmann, Loney magic on him.

      • spudchukar - Dec 10, 2013 at 9:58 AM

        The difference is all three prior Rays were excellent defenders, and helped make up for their lack of production. Smoak sucks defensively.

      • spudchukar - Dec 10, 2013 at 10:01 AM

        Smoak averaged over 500 PA in three consecutive years for Seattle. I don’t know many young players who have ever been offered so much playing time with so little results, especially since he had previous opportunities elsewhere. Your definition of “sporatic” is significantly different than mine.

      • wannabenerd230 - Dec 10, 2013 at 10:38 AM

        The plan that I’ve been hearing the most from the 1B side of the Rays offseason has been acquiring the Marlins’ old 1B Logan Morrison in a trade for Rodriguez +. To me it would be the ideal move because he has three (very inexpensive) years of team control left, and is a good buy-low on a high-risk, high-reward guy that will probably get a boost in numbers getting away from Marlins Park (a very pitcher-friendly venue).

      • spudchukar - Dec 10, 2013 at 10:42 AM

        Maybe, and he is a cheaper option than Loney, but I really believe the Rays are better than any other team in the AL East, if they can land a contributing first baseman and Morrison has his liabilities. He isn’t very good defensively, cannot stay on the field, and by all accounts isn’t a particularly terrific guy.

        I hope the Rays can do better, but yes he is a viable fall back option, and has shown the ability to hit, and hit for power on occasion.

      • clydeserra - Dec 10, 2013 at 10:42 AM

        smoak can’t really play defense though. last year he was an OK hitter. still young enough where there cold be one or 2 really good years. he is more of a scrap heap guy.

        But there is no way Seattle DFAs him, ZMOG! home runs!

      • spudchukar - Dec 10, 2013 at 10:46 AM

        Actually 20 HRs for a corner infielder with 500 PA isn’t anything special, particularly since he cannot do anything else but occasionally walk. If it comes down to Montero or Smoak, I say the Mariners keep Montero.

      • wannabenerd230 - Dec 10, 2013 at 10:50 AM

        There’s a reason I said that it was “high-risk, high-reward”, it’s because Morrison does have a few warts on him, specifically a shaky Twitter presence (outside of the field) and still-mediocre defensive metrics (inside of the field). However, he is still a very young guy at 26, with obvious room for improvement on both sides of the field, and a move away from the Loria circus tent and into the best run team in baseball may be exactly what the guy needs to finally get his real break in the majors.

      • spudchukar - Dec 10, 2013 at 11:02 AM

        Don’t get me wrong I think Morrison is intriguing. But for a team that has to be thinking win “now”, while still having an eye on the future, somebody like Loney is still preferred, and I don’t believe his one rebound year is deserving of a 3 year 9mil deal.

      • wannabenerd230 - Dec 10, 2013 at 11:12 AM

        Loney is likely the preferred choice if his contract length is cut to two years. Then I could see the Rays offering 2 years/$18M. But I think a team like the Pirates (with resurgent attendance thanks to their first playoff appearance in over 20 years) will make a somewhat better offer for him than that. Considering that the team feels that Beckham is probably ready to take over Rodriguez’s utility role, Morrison for Rodriguez + is a good buy-low for the Rays.

        Also, I’d be shocked if the Rays trade Hellickson when his value is at its lowest. I certainly wouldn’t, because personally I think he’s due for a bounce-back year since he had a BABIP over .300 last year, even though his FIP declined from 4.60 to 4.22, signaling bad luck and hopefully a return to at least an ERA under 4.00. Now, if Hellickson has a good bounceback next year, they will probably deal him for prospects. But not right now.

      • spudchukar - Dec 10, 2013 at 11:32 AM

        I too doubt that Hellickson goes, more because they would be counting on an awfully young staff to contend.

        I do not even think Loney will get 9 mil. More like 7.5. and 3 years maybe.

    • Reflex - Dec 10, 2013 at 10:05 AM

      Matt Moore has been Phil Hughes? Are you high?

      Phil Hughes 2013 -

      Age: 27
      IP: 145
      ERA: 5.19
      WHIP: 1.455
      WAR: -0/7

      Matt Moore 2013 -

      Age: 24
      IP: 150
      ERA: 3.29
      WHIP: 1.297
      WAR: 2.6

      If that is your definition of a failed pitcher I don’t want what you are smoking.

      • hittfamily - Dec 10, 2013 at 10:19 AM

        Are you high? When Mike Trout is compared to Willie Mays, they aren’t comparing 21 year old Mike Trout to 81 year old Willie Mays. Why are you comparing a failed 27 year old top prospect to a 24 year old top prospect? Look at their minor league numbers. Then look at where the “Top 10 MLB prospect” lists ranked them compared to their peers. Then run their age 23 and 24 year old stats and get back to me. I wasn’t comparing 2013 Matt Moore to 2013 Phil Hughes. I wasn’t comparing 24 year old Matt Moore to 27 year old Phil Hughes. I was comparing their entire career up to age 24! Remarkably similiar.

      • Reflex - Dec 10, 2013 at 1:17 PM

        I am certain a lot of prospect pictures look very similar at a given age. The fact that one flamed out does not mean another will. Its an idiotic statement. If Phil Hughes put up similar stats at 24 to Matt Moore than Phil Hughes had a legitimately good season that year. That he fell off later does not speak to Moore’s potential, nor does it come as any sort of a surprise since a lot of prospect pitchers flame out.

    • clydeserra - Dec 10, 2013 at 10:34 AM

      do the angels have enough to get it done? they are pretty thin, i think

    • spc7ray - Dec 10, 2013 at 10:37 AM

      Angels front runners? yeah right

      • clydeserra - Dec 10, 2013 at 10:47 AM

        Meaning for Price

  6. bendover09 - Dec 10, 2013 at 8:21 AM

    … Is David Price really worth the trouble ?

    Post-season stats
    4 Yrs (5 Series) 1-4(W/L) 5.06 ERA 9 Games

    • stex52 - Dec 10, 2013 at 8:38 AM

      My friend, I believe you have set the bar for small sample size for all the comments today. How about these stats? For the last three years (avg)

      Innings pitched = 207
      ERA = 3.12
      WHIP = 1.1
      K/BB = 4.1
      Cy Young in 2012

      Those are some pretty awesome stats.

      • spudchukar - Dec 10, 2013 at 8:48 AM

        Yeah, kinda answers that whole “trouble” question, and emphatically in the process.

      • paperlions - Dec 10, 2013 at 9:30 AM

        The smallest sample size I’ve seen to justify an opinion is a single AB. I can’t count the number of times when a commenter used a single HR to back up his/her opinion that player X was good or that his power was not in decline.

    • hittfamily - Dec 10, 2013 at 8:49 AM

      Is Mike Trout really worth the trouble?

      Post season stats:
      .000 avg
      .000 OPS
      0 RBIs
      0 Homeruns

      • pastabelly - Dec 10, 2013 at 10:05 AM

        I get it. Trout hasn’t played in the postseason and you are using that to mimize Price’s mediocre starting pitching in the postseason.

      • hittfamily - Dec 10, 2013 at 10:24 AM

        I get it. Price’s team makes the post season as a wild card every year, so has to face the best offense in baseball on the road for 4 career post season starts, and we are using that to prove he isn’t very good.

    • cur68 - Dec 10, 2013 at 9:27 AM

      There IS no post season without Price.

    • pastabelly - Dec 10, 2013 at 9:58 AM

      He was dominant out of the bullpen in the 2008 ALCS against the Red Sox and got his only win there. He was decent in relief in the 2008 World Series and has struggled in four starts from 2010-2013. I’d rather have Verlander or even Lester in a big game, but he’s been the second best pitcher in the AL the past five years and two years of him won’t come cheap. The Dodgers make the most sense. Tampa Bay won’t trade him in the division and might even want to trade an ace out of the entire AL.

  7. spc7ray - Dec 10, 2013 at 10:41 AM

    The Dodgers just might do this–It depends on what they have to give–I hope Colletti is serious when he say he wants to build up his prospects and not GIVE the best ones away–It might be best to try and sign him now to a longer term if that can be done as part of the deal

  8. spc7ray - Dec 10, 2013 at 10:43 AM

    The Dodgers need offense–They still have good pitching-But more good pitching sure wouldn’t hurt-I agree SP pitchers can be a crap shoot–Look at what Dickey did last year

  9. vegagreenleaf - Dec 10, 2013 at 11:11 AM

    Paxson, might do something someday. Price, a great talent. Pull the trigger, Z. Us Mariner fans are sick of rebuilding. Cubs fans may be content to, “wait until next year,” each and every year, but this Mariners fan wants the team to go for broke. If it falls flat, at least we gave it a go. As a fan of the team for over thirty years, I’m becoming increasingly impatient. You’re up, Z.

    • wannabenerd230 - Dec 10, 2013 at 11:17 AM

      I could see them go for a package of Hultzen & Franklin + if they don’t budge on Walker and/or Paxton. However, the Rays usually are able to somehow, some way get the guy that they want, and I’m pretty sure that a team as desperate for contention as the Mariners are will eventually relent and give up Walker or Paxton in the package.

  10. jdillydawg - Dec 10, 2013 at 5:14 PM

    It’s a great business decision to keep Walker. I mean, they can bring the guy up, he’ll pitch lights out, the Mariners will still be going nowhere, and suddenly they’ll get David Price money for him.

    They’ll still suck as a team but rake in the cash. It’s all good.

  11. mleejohnson1967 - Dec 11, 2013 at 4:00 AM

    The Mariners haven’t been serious about anything related to baseball for at least a decade. The fastest way to avoid traffic on I-5 on game days is to get off the freeway and take 1st Ave past the stadium. You won’t find a drop of traffic there.

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