The Seattle Mariners and Tampa Bay Rays are having ongoing discussions about possibly trading for left-hander David Price and second baseman Ben Zobrist, reports FOX Sports' Jon Morosi, who asserts that nothing is imminent. In a separate tweet, he also notes that these discussions come as talks with the Philadelphia Phillies about outfielder Marlon Byrd have stalled.
The Mariners have been connected to the Rays as a suitor for David Price dating back to last year, and with the club currently in line for a playoff position, a major acquisition such as acquiring Price and/or Zobrist could be enough to hold off other Wild Card contenders.
Price, who is under control through next season, is in the midst of an outstanding season, and would represent a massive upgrade to a Mariners rotation that has been roughly league-average this year, as it has struggled with injuries to Hisashi Iwakuma, James Paxton, and Taijuan Walker, as well as below-average performances from the likes of Roenis Elias, Brandon Maurer, and Erasmo Ramirez. The former Cy Young winner currently has a 3.23 ERA, 3.12 FIP, and 7.81 K/BB (including an AL best 164 strikeouts) in a league-leading 147.2 innings pitched.
With second base in Seattle occupied by Robinson Cano, Zobrist would likely serve in a super-utility role, with an emphasis on shortstop, where the 24-year-old Brad Miller has struggled this season. Like Price, Zobrist is locked up through next season via a $7.5 million team option. Zobrist is in the midst of a down year, but is still batting .266/.352/.401 with a 113 OPS+ and 2.2 WAR while providing his usual defensive versatility.
A deal for both Price and Zobrist would likely require an enormous return package that parallels or ups the ransom the Cubs received from the Athletics in the Jeff Samardzija/Jason Hammel deal. Any deal would almost certainly start off with Triple-A right-hander Taijuan Walker, and probably include infielder Nick Franklin, as well as numerous other pieces.
Yesterday, ESPN.com's Jim Bowden wrote that Byrd would only be willing to waive his no-trade clause (Byrd has a four-team no trade list that includes the Mariners) to join Seattle if they guaranteed his $8 million option for 2016, which they appear unwilling to do.