The Rays have already done the experienced-starter for crop-of-younger-guys deal when they moved James Shields to the Kansas City Royals in a seven-player deal.
We’re proposing a similar deal: David Price and Desmond Jennings to Seattle for a six-player package.
Sheilds had two years left before free agency, and Price has a year-and-a-half. The idea was to get a return while they still could. If the Rays are cashing in on 2014, now is the time to move Price.
Lefty Price is a better pitcher than Shields, but not by much. The Royals, however, were getting 60-ish starts (two full years) of Shields, while the team that gets Price will be buying only 40-ish starts prior to free agency. So it’s fair to say that July 2014 Price isn’t really worth much more than December 2012 Shields.
Shields was packaged with Wade Davis, who had spotty success as a starter for Tampa, but has become a formidable setup guy for the Royals (and a player to be named later, Elliot Johnson, got sent to KC).
But we can’t pretend that Davis had the value that Jennings, a consistent everyday player, would add to our proposed deal.
Nevertheless, there are reasons for the Rays to move Jennings if they are surrendering on 2014.
- First, he’s about to become expensive. He’s in his last year of pre-arbitration, so his salary will go up by millions.
- Second, his replacements are at hand.
Kevin Kiermaier is already with the Rays with Wil Myers and David DeJesus on the disabled list. He’s hitting .285/.322/.555 in his first 42 games, after going .305/.362/.461 at AAA Durham. Last year he had a .793 OPS between AA and AAA, with 15 triples. He’s played all three OF positions, but has mostly been a center fielder.
Then there’s 2011 1st-round pick Mikie Mahtook, who is having a bust-out year in Durham: .311/.382/.505. He had a bit of a down year at AA in 2012 (if you call 30 doubles and 25 steals a “down” year), but has put himself right back in the pecking order this season. He’s also played a lot of center, though he, too, has played all three OF positions.
And Myers, although struggling and hurt in 2014, was Rookie of the Year in 2013. Plus Ben Zobrist spends some time in the outfield as he moves around.
Although moving Jennings is surely not their preferred course, eventually they won’t have room for these guys, and, since he fits Seattle’s needs, he can be part of a big haul of young cheap talent.
In 2012, the key to the Shields deal was Myers and pitcher Jake Odorizzi. [Fading prospect pitcher Mike Montgomery and longshot teen prospect Patrick Leonard were also part of the deal.]
Odorizzi was a hot prospect, but not really someone with ace upside, and I think it’s fair to compare him to Roenis Elias, the pitcher that I plugged into my proposed deal. Indeed, Odorizzi is 24 and has a 4.18 ERA; Elias is 25 and has a 4.19 ERA.
But is Nick Franklin comparable to Myers? I think it’s close, given that Franklin is a middle infielder, and that Franklin already has a taste of MLB success. That being said, Franklin has the air of damaged goods given his more-recent struggles [Myers has struggled, too, but after the trade], and having been beaten out by Brad Miller for the MLB job. So I don’t think Franklin will have the “cachet” the Myers had in 2012.
But in terms of talent, I would rank Franklin-Elias pretty close to Myers-Odorizzi. Myers strikes out a lot, and only has one season in which he flashed monster power.
Of course, as noted, Jennings is a better companion piece than Davis-circa-2012. He’s been a 3-WAR player, if you’re into that kind of thing.
So, add a reliever with a record of MLB success [pick one: Danny Farquhar, Tom Wilhelmsen (both have closed), Yoervis Medina, Dominic Leone; and if it’s the only way to make the deal, Brandon Maurer], and an emerging pitching prospect at AA [pick one again: Tyler Pike or Victor Sanchez].
Then, to get both guys, I would add one more player from the High-A or AA level, but not someone as valuable as D.J. Peterson. I suggested Patrick Kivlehan, Tyler Marlette or Gabriel Guerrero. And I would give them Abraham Almonte, who doesn’t have much trade value, but gives them a “true” center fielder to replace Jennings (Kiermaier and Mahtook have split between center and right, although reports are that both can handle center; Kiermaier maybe more than Mahtook).
Would that six-player deal get the Rays to move? I would guess they’d have to think hard.