We've all heard the whispers. But what exactly would David Price's future look like with the Cardinals?
If you google "David Price Cardinals", you'll find some ambiguous rumors linking the two, as well as a picture of Price's head photoshopped onto Jaime Garcia's body. So what if it's for real?
Tampa Bay has announced that their 28 year old ace is available "right now", meaning we may all cautiously begin to ponder the vague possibility of David Price's future as a Cardinal. Is my hesitation apparent enough?
Should that fateful acquisition be made, Price's tenure would likely play out in one of three ways:
1. Price comes to St. Louis for the purposes of pushing the Cards into and through the 2014 playoffs, then traded in the off season, probably netting a solid return given his remaining contract year and reputation as an elite starter.
2. Price comes to St. Louis to pitch for the next two years, and then is allowed to enter free agency, most likely after receiving a qualifying offer that allows the Cardinals to hopefully draft the next Michael Wacha.
3. Price is brought to St. Louis and extended before entering free agency, becoming a long term Cardinal, fill in the blank.
The first two scenarios are fairly straightforward. The third, however, allows for some specultaion. In his January article about a possible Rays-Price extension, Daniel Russell mapped out Price's statistical projections and his corresponding market value over the next several seasons. Russell found that even with liberal projections for his WAR value over the next several years, Price would likely fall short of earning the King Felix-sized deal he is likely to get (around 7 years, $175 Million), in terms of dollars-to-WAR value. I recommend taking a look at the hard numbers for yourself. As a significant sidenote, Price's value is further shrouded by recent injury history (triceps).
In the end, the Rays could never afford to gamble on Price, as even Russell seemed to realize in his pre-Rays implosion writeup at the beginning of the year. With their small market frugality and affinity for dealing their veterans for smart prospect-packages, the Rays are poised to send Price away, via the James Shields route. The Cardinals, however, have the resources to make a splash, should Price dazzle them. Just the idea of it sends visions of Wainwright-Wacha-Price owning the NL Central for years t come dancing through our heads, in spite of Russell's words of caution.
By 2015, Mark Ellis's $5 million, Jaime Garcia's $9 million, and Jason Motte's $6 million dollar contracts will all come off the books, and in 2016 Holliday's $16 million dollar contract will be up as well. Even Jhonny Peralta's front-loaded contract could lead to a trade, opening up $10-12 million dollars. While those millions will offer some payroll flexibility, the impending arbitration years of players like Shelby Miller, Michael Wacha, Carlos Martinez, Joe Kelly, Matt Adams, Lance Lynn, and Kolten Wong all loom in the distance. Retaining those players will eat a chunk of that flexibility, without consideration for possible free agenst over the offseason. If forced to choose between the two, the Cardinals would almost certainly hitch their wagon to the younger arms (which don't cost full market value, unlike Price). In the end, I would suggest that the possibility of a Price extension is almost as unlikely for the Cardinals as it was for the Rays, though for different reasons, and Price's potential tenure as a Cardinal would last no more than a season and a half at most.
That fact should have little effect on whether or not a trade gets made, however, as the Cardinals are certainly poised to win in '14 and '15, and Price's contract coincides with that window nicely without an extension. It would be more than a short-term rental and might provide the often-lethargic Cards the boost they've been looking for all season.
So I ask you: Does the deal get done? How does it play out? Is the Price right? Was that pun worth it?