July 30, 2014

#Cardinals at trade deadline — Price? Lackey? Colon? others?

With about 36 hours left before the non-waiver trade deadline of July 31, trade rumors continue to rise up hot and heavy.

The latest, per Bob Nightengale, has Tampa ace David Price headed to the Cardinals for a return of Oscar Taveras, Shelby Miller, and the competitive balance "sandwich" draft pick the Cards got awarded a couple of weeks ago.

The Rays' resurgence in the AL East has dampened the likelihood of Price moving anywhere, in my estimate and that of many others. I'd put it below 30 percent.

But, never say never.

As for making that move? I'd prefer to have it tied to a Price contract extension,  but I'll take it as it stands. Price has a great WHIP and FIP numbers, and no significant injury history. Taveras has been struggling. He may need more playing time that — Mike Matheny blind haters aside — he has yet to earn. Speaking of Matheny, Taveras may need a change of scenery. Or, he may be the dreaded "pheenom." The Cards had one in the minors a few years back, guy by the name of Brett Wallace. Oh, he's had multiple cups of coffee, and even a half a pot or two, at various stops in the majors. But, never panned out, and the Cards got a great haul.

Otherwise, compared to last year, Miller's K rate has been down and his BB rate way up, even before his back problems. The pick? The Cards will get that back on a QO for Price, post-2015, if they can't resign him.

As for the Rays having a crowded OF themselves, as some fans say? Desmond Jennings isn't that great, and is arb-eligible after this year. Matthew Joyce is a somewhat better in left, but is on the same free-agency timeline as Price. The Rays have incentive to want Taveras. Tampa fans who don't see that should maybe re-examine how well they know their own lineup, because I've seen claims that Tampa doesn't really need to trade for an outfielder.

The Cards have other options.

John Lackey is presumably resigned to the fact that he'll be pitching for the MLB minimum of $550K next year. He's solidly above average, and with that low contract price is well worth a trade. However, given what the Sawks want for Jon Lester as a two-month rental, the price on Lackey might be steep. And, I hope this blog and others are wrong about the Cards being hot and heavy on Lester.

Bartolo Colon? Laugh at his age and his weight, but he can still throw the ball, and has been relatively healthy. He has a relatively inexpensive contract, too.

The Mets offering to eat $2M of his salary this year sounds nice, but really, that's chump change if your payroll is much above Tampa's. Rather, it seems part of a Mets move to angle for a bigger haul in return. Since that initial announcement, there's been zero additional talk, which makes me think the price is too high.

Cole Hamels is way too high. Shock me; it's Ruben Amaro Jr.

The "others" could include someone like a Dallas Kuechel. He's drawn some rumor, but it's unclear how likely the Astros are to move him, or what their price is.

The final option is to do nothing, or phrased differently, to stand pat while hoping Yadier Molina comes back sooner rather than later and that Michael Wacha comes back some time this year. I lay at least 50-50 odds that is the end result.

Update: Or, Mozeliak could do the equivalent of nothing and acquire back-of-rotation low-fiber filler like Justin Masterson. Ugh.

On the Rays' end, because of new playoff hopes, I don't see a trade right now. In addition, agreeing with this blog, if other teams will only really pay high for Price in conjunction with being able to extend his contract, that's a lot easier to do in the offseason.

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