It was just over four months ago, in the waning moments before MLB’s Trade Deadline, that the Detroit Tigers pulled off a stunner, acquiring David Price from the Tampa Bay Rays, in hopes that the outstanding southpaw could aid their seemingly inevitable run deep into the postseason. However, Detroit suffered an early playoff exit at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles, and the Tigers are now faced with some difficult personnel decisions heading into next season.
Price, who will be playing in his last season before he hits free agency, unless Detroit signs him to an extension, is being included in even more trade speculation.
Sources: #Tigers drawing strong interest in Price, Porcello. Both entering FA years, as are Zimmermann, Samardzija, etc. All still in play.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 4, 2014
Whether there’s substance to any of the rumors is yet to be known, but interest in Price is certainly there. The 29-year-old lefty is entering his fourth time through the arbitration process, and he’s expected to command nearly $19 million when all is said and done, according to projections done by MLBTradeRumors.com. That is the highest projected salary of all of the arbitration-eligible players (216 in total), and the Tigers have other pressing needs that must be addressed.
However, it’s rather evident that flipping Price with just one year of control left wouldn’t necessarily be the best course of action for these Tigers. But the potential for an underwhelming return isn’t all a Price-less (no pun intended) Tigers club would have the worry about. Considering Max Scherzer‘s imminent departure and Justin Verlander‘s steady and inescapable decline, Detroit would be putting their pitching depth in serious jeopardy by moving David Price at this stage.
Doug Fister and Drew Smyly are gone. Even after Detroit’s acquisition of Shane Greene, the club is left with uncertainty. Buck Farmer is arguably the best option that the Tigers are left with in the minors, and he struggled greatly in his brief opportunity with the big club last season. As currently constructed, the Tigers lack depth in the most critical area. Trading away their exceptional left-hander would only worsen the club’s need. This is obviously a much different situation that the one in Tampa Bay. Detroit can afford to sign him long-term, and they should make that a top priority.
By dealing Price now, the Tigers would be taking less (in all likelihood) that he would typically be worth, and would be creating a heap of uncertainty around their staff heading into next season. As Ken Rosenthal mentioned, right-handed starter Rick Porcello, who enjoyed a large amount of unsustainable success this past season, is also being linked in rumors, and he would make a much more logical trade candidate, if the Tigers are resolute on dealing a starter. According to GM Dave Dombrowski, however, the club is listening to the offers but not actively shopping any of it’s starting pitching. That all could change once we reach the upcoming Winter Meetings.
Price was the epitome of a work horse last season, compiling an astounding 248.1 innings pitched. He posted a 2.78 FIP, while striking out a Major League leading 271 batters. Price is occasionally guilty of overusing his fastball, and that’s lead to a lot of home runs allowed, but there’s no denying the immense value that 2012 Cy Young award winner consistently provides.