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David Price is the biggest name being thrown around leading up to the 2014 Major League Baseball trade deadline on July 31. Of the few teams vying for the Tampa Bay ace, the St. Louis Cardinals look to be the front-runner right now.
For the past two seasons Price has been the center of conversation when it comes to trades and the Cardinals have been the leading candidate both times. With plenty of prospect potential to land the 28-year-old Cy Young winner, St. Louis might want to jump at the chance a second time around.
But what will it take to land the southpaw and his $100 million-plus contract? For any other team in the league, the trade would be near impossible given the state of the team at the halfway point and their farm system. But for the Cardinals, prospects like Oscar Taveras and Carlos Martinez open eyes of many front-office job holders. Plus St. Louis is in dire need for starting pitching with Michael Wacha out until September and Jaime Garcia out for the season.
Price comes with a big price tag at over $100 million and the Cardinals want nothing but a longterm contact if the trade is, in fact, a go. The only real downside to him signing for that much is that it would make him the highest paid Cardinal pitcher in history, ahead of ace Adam Wainwright by $2.5 million if the contract stopped at an even $100 million, which is unlikely.
According to sources around the league, Price's asking salary could reach $120 million for a multiple-year deal. That would put him tied with Matt Holliday for second largest contract in franchise history, just behind Albert Pujols.
The big question then moves to "is Price worth the asking price?"
The question is simple.
While Wainwright is the creme de la creme when it comes to professional pitching, Price brings a stellar resume as well. Aside from winning the American League Cy Young in 2012, Price is a four-time All Star, finished second in the Cy Young in 2010, holds a regular-season record of 81-46 and a career earned run average of 3.17, not to mention he is just 28 and in the middle of his prime.
Also, while there are many good lefties in the league nowadays, Price possesses one of the best arms, having struck out 1,049 batters in his 6.5 years in the majors.
The only hitch in Price's game thus far is his performance in the postseason where he is 1-4 in nine appearances with a 5.06 ERA. But that is a small sample size and he does play in Tampa Bay.
While Waino would still be the ace, Price gives the Cardinals leverage following Wainwright's career, who is set to turn 33 this year.
We know Price is good. There is no question. But the Cardinals' farm system ranks atop the league, making it hard to give up talent, that in recent years has proved great, hints Wacha, Taveras, Shelby Miller, etc.
Taveras has a truckload of talent and in a key spot in centerfield, along with a power bat and he hits from the left side.
In my opinion, giving him up is a bit much this early in his career.
What could work, however, is a package deal with Allen Craig involved. The first base/outfielder has given the Cardinals much to cheer about in the last few seasons and has produced mightily. This year, however, does not apply. Hitting .244 with 7 homeruns is not going to cut it at the big-league level and for a team that has a rich tradition of making the postseason. Manager Mike Matheny has already made it clear that Craig is a back-burner roster spot when it comes to Taveras.
Craig is a good trade-bait candidate to land Price without causing the Cardinals to lose much.
Martinez, a young fireballer, could also be in the mix with Craig. Losing both wouldn't be much of a loss when you look at the return you get in Price. Craig might just be enough, sweetening the deal for St. Louis.
The deadline is a week away and fireworks have been known to fly at the last minute. Also, what seemed like done deals have fallen through at the same time. With the clock ticking, the Cardinals have a big decision to make in the coming days. Time will only tell if the price for Price is truly worth it.