In Major League Baseball, if you are in desperate need of young, controllable players, there are few better teams to turn towards than the St. Louis Cardinals. Built on strong scouting, and player development, the Cardinals have harnessed an unparalleled ability to produce homegrown talent, and stay competitive. In light of this fact, the Detroit Tigers would be foolish to pass up the opportunity to flip David Price for some of St. Louis’ young talent, and, in turn, sign Max Scherzer.
According to a report from Jon Morosi, and Ken Rosenthal, of Fox Sports, the Cardinals are “pursuing a major upgrade” in their rotation, and Price is one of their top targets. In fact, he may be the most attainable option. Morosi and Rosenthal believe that Scherzer’s price tag, and Cole Hamels’ trade value, may deter the team from acquiring either pitcher.
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However, with just one year left on his deal, Price will not cost them nearly as much as giving 200 million dollars to Scherzer, or parting with elite prospects for Hamels. The Tigers need to take advantage of that. Price may not land the Tigers what Hamels would land Philadelphia, but he can, without question, help Detroit add to a depleted depth of quality youth.
The report from Morosi and Rosenthal suggests that a return of young right-handed phenom Carlos Martinez, and slugging outfielder Randall Grichuk, may be too steep in a deal for Hamels, so it certainly is in a trade for Price. However, bring down the price tag just slightly for the Tigers’ left-handed star, and a swap becomes more likely.
Say, for example, that the Tigers offer Price to the Cardinals for Martinez, and catching prospect Carson Kelly. That package, or something like it, represents a good haul for Detroit, and does little to put a dent in the Cardinals’ farm system.
Even getting Martinez alone would be a satisfying return for Price, who is in the last year of his current deal, and has yet to discuss a long-term deal with Tigers’ brass. Getting Kelly in addition to Martinez, however, would be as good of a return as the Tigers could expect. According to Baseball Prospectus, if Martinez stays in the bullpen “he could become an All-Star-level closer” but if he develops as a starter, “[he] has a future as a no. 2 starter in a championship rotation.”
Kelly, meanwhile, converted from third base, to catcher, and will be a project, but he provides insurance for Detroit in the event that Alex Avila’s health becomes a problem that Dave Dombrowski cannot overlook in the long-term. Acquiring the young catcher in addition to Martinez is not the only avenue for the Tigers to explore, but it is a good one.
Now, a Price deal is almost assuredly contingent on bringing Max Scherzer back, but his expensive demands become less hazardous to an already bleak future in Detroit if the Tigers can use Price to help build a young core. With Martinez at the front of the rotation, and another young piece around the diamond behind him, Detroit could start to build a consistent culture of winning, much like they have in St. Louis.