If you didn't imagine Jurickson Profar or Taijuan Walker in a Rays jersey this winter, you weren't paying much attention to the trade rumor hurricane that roared David Price's name across the Internet for months. They couldn't actually name it David because that name was retired by the World Meteorological Committee in 1979.
But you've heard the narratives. Last winter was the best time for the team to maximize his value. It became a foregone conclusion that Price would be on a different team at some point this season.
It didn't happen for a few different reasons. First, the Rangers -- who might never have considered trading Profar for Price -- moved Ian Kinsler for Prince Fielder, and handed the starting second base gig to Profar in the process.
Seattle was mentioned in rumors from time to time as well. They had Walker and one of the Nick Franklin/Brad Miller infield logjam to offer. However, their financial situation became a little murky when Chuck Armstrong passed the presidential torch to Kevin Mather. After landing Robinson Cano, it looked like they would fill their club with as many impact players as they could, but acquiring Price would have been a waste if they couldn't extend him long-term. He explicitly said he wouldn't do so, making the Mariners an extremely unlikely destination.
And the Rays also had this crazy idea that they might be a World Series contender in the present, so planning for the future logically took a backseat to their ultimate goal.
Early in 2013, Price was injured. In 2014, everyone else is.
Okay, not everyone. Alex Cobb will be back in four to six weeks, but Matt Moore won't. Jeremy Hellickson could be back sometime this summer, but it's impossible to tell how effective he'll be when he returns. That's a majority of their rotation -- gone. At least for now.
What would they do if Price was on the Dodgers right now?
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They probably could've scooped up a high-level pitching prospect in the deal, but their focus in dealing Price would have seems to be improving their offense. Obviously, it's pure speculation at this point.
Surely, the Rays' preference would be to find a way to keep David Price, but that isn't financially practical. Their second choice would probably be adding several impact prospects in a trade, but that might not happen until next winter -- or at all. Which would leave them with the least desirable option -- letting Price walk after 2015 and recouping the draft pick.
That's the thing, though. Those are the Rays' preferences, not their purpose. Their purpose is winning, and they probably feel pretty good about maintaining their focus on that right now. If they hadn't, their aces would be Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi right now, and they aren't likely to lean on those two for 230 innings apiece this early in their careers.
They'll have to use guys like Erik Bedard and Cesar Ramos to bridge the sinkhole that appeared this April, but having David Price at the front of their rotation now is more valuable than they could've imagined this winter.