Rosenthal to Cubs: The Price is Right…Now!

Ken Rosenthal thinks Price would look good in a Cubs uniform. I do too, if for different reasons, and strategy than him.

The ask would be key piece of information, as to how to get both Price, who seems to think it would be “cool” to win in Chicago, and Andrew Friedman on board to do a deal. Now, the Cubs have a plethora of prospects that can play shortstop (Addison Russell, Javy Baez, and in a pinch, Arismendy Alcantara played a little there) behind one Starlin Castro. Castro, at 24, is on a team friendly deal – always a deal maker for Tampa. He won’t get expensive until we are on the 2nd term of the next President after Obama: 2020.

For the Cubs, you can’t make a straight up deal due to these facts:

1) Castro has 6 years of control; Price 1.33 ish (without an extension)

2) Injury risk on one said David Price

3) The cost to keep Price, assuming you can extend, is boo coo high.

If you were going to do this, you would have to package it: in this case (good contract, Castro) with (bad contract, Jackson) for (David Price and MLB OF Kevin Kiermaier .) The Rays will instantly balk at the idea of giving up any young talent, but to receive such a cost controlled piece, that’s the minimum price to play.

Rays benefit: they get a SP they know all about as Jackson pitched there in 2006-2008. Who is, relative to the market, fairly cheap at ($11M for 2015-16). Price costing $20M in arbitration at least is going to crimp the Rays’ budget. But for $17M (Castro + Jackson) they can justify that in 2015-2016. Move Yunel Escobar to 2B – and keep Zobrist, or parlay him into prospects this off-season. In short, Tampa can stay competitive for 2 seasons, hoping they hit in the draft in 2015, assuming bad results in 2014.

Cubs benefit: The Cubs have cleared all payroll obligations that are remotely onerous, aside from Price on the comeback. They acquire a cheap OF who has hit .315/.360/.570 with 8HRs in 179PAs. The Rays have an OF: with Jennings, Joyce, and Will Myers once he returns, along with Zobrist.

Kiermaier was a low draft pick (31st rd), so the fact he is doing things, is a testimony to hard work so far paying off. At 24, he matches Castro’s age. He’s no guarantee, but no one is. His minor record shows he’s a decent contact guy, with speed, and excellent outfielding skills. So to me, he’s worthy of the risk.

The Cubs can go shopping in the off-season for Jon Lester, if Boston doesn’t deem him worthy. This time, the Cubs must win the bidding war – likely $120M+. After dumping the Jackson contract, you have the flexibility to move monies towards the assets you want. (Even if you paid 25% to Tampa to reacquire him.) Figure $15M saved from Jackson’s contract, plus $105M in new cash for 6 seasons, assuming Theo/Jed have a good relationship with Lester. Maybe get a structure or discount (team option, incentives that kick in….for innings, etc.)

At some point, you will have to acquire an ace by either: prospects given up, signing to a mega deal; or development. Teams are hording pitchers, afraid they will bust, so prying a top-tier prospect arm away seems a remote deal.  Free agency signs are guys near 30, in decline. Yet, those pitchers hold their value longer if they were elite level, than the mid-tier guys. Option C – turn mid-level arms into aces. Again, not a sure thing. Even if you get a good result, the playoffs is a whole different monster.

2015 Rotation: Price, Lester, Arrieta, Wood, 5th starter TBD, or signed

2015 Bats: C Castillo, 1B Rizzo, 2B Alcantara, SS Baez, 3B Valbuena, CF Kiermaier, RF Bryant, LF Kyle Schwarber (in June)….add in another FA OF – the team competes, if the plan is truly going well, to plan.

Price is a hedge, instead of a long-term piece. Price pitches well, you are in the playoffs. You have potential to win. You might lose to compensation  – a bad hedge – but freed up of $20 M – you can maybe negotiate with him, or target a younger version of him….

If the team falters, or plays bad: David Price will not extend, he becomes an option for the flip for prospects program. You do what the Rays would have done.

Nevertheless, on some level, you have to be prepared to make a risky play, and put both talent and your prospects in play. Waiting another year, is just well, waiting. (And if they go bad, then what?)

For Castro, he can be a good player, but I have my doubts about becoming a great one. The numbers don’t bear out greatness:

Catro

Those numbers don’t scream greatness, even if a .430 slugging average in the offense-poor era now is above average. Yes, he plays shortstop. But, the question is: Do I see the Cubs ever being Castro’s team? (Like Trout or Harper, or Stanton?)  With Price or Lester, you get a guy that can literally win the game almost by himself by just being their usual self: a good pitcher. Castro is streaky – and up and down – the ride is never quite pleasant. He’s a Very Good type below.

Presentation1

If I am wrong, it costs me nothing. If the FO is wrong, it might cost them their jobs.  (Memories are long in Chicago of Rafael Palmeiro and Lou Brock, for examples of trades gone bad.)

But, I’d do this knowing I got Price in his walk year – likely either winning towards a playoff, or parlaying into 3 top prospects; and a 24-year old OF that may have a starting job in Chicago, and could equally be Castro.

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