Why Dodgers could be best fit for David Price trade
The rumor began building early in the week, if not sooner: If the Tigers decided to become sellers by Friday’s Trade Deadlne, the Dodgers were ready to make a push for David Price.
The appearance of a Dodgers scout at Tropicana Field for Price’s start Tuesday night (he wasn’t there for the series opener Monday) furthered the notion.
Now that the Tigers have made their “rebooting” plans known, the Dodgers’ intentions are clear: David Price is their top target, as colleague Ken Gurnick states. And if they’re willing to go up their prospect ranks, they could have the parts to do it.
It’s likely not going to be a Price-for-Puig trade. Despite an environment that has proven comfortable for Cuban players such as Jose Iglesias and Yoenis Cespedes, the Tigers aren’t looking for that type of deal. They’re expected to seek more cost-controlled players, they need more pitching, and they’ve been frosty in the past about Puig, who burst onto the Major League scene with an impact in 2013 and 2014 but has struggled mightily this season.
The Dodgers do not need Puig to pull off a deal. Their prospects are strong enough that, even if the Tigers are still looking to win now (or next year, really), they can fit Detroit’s needs. Shortstop Corey Seager and left-hander Julio Urias top the list, ranking among the top 10 prospects in baseball, but the Dodgers have been steadfast about holding onto them, which reportedly played a factor in Cole Hamels talks. Seager is their shortstop of the future. The Tigers (or any team) would love Seager, who could play just about anywhere, but given their need for pitching, they’d particularly love Urias.
Given what the trade market has shown so far, one would like to think that favors the Tigers getting what they want. But if the Dodgers feel they can get Price on the free-agent market anyway, they could hold steadfast on their top guys and might still have enough to get a deal done.
The Dodgers reportedly were on the verge of acquiring a starting pitcher Wednesday in Alex Wood, but the 24-year-old could well be of more appeal to the Tigers. Detroit officials liked the left-hander previously when they were looking for young arms to add to their rotation, but never got a deal done. Frank Wren was the Braves general manager when they drafted Wood in 2012, and he was spotted around Tropicana Field hanging with the Tigers front-office group this week. Wren worked for Dombrowski in Montreal and Florida.
If the Dodgers won’t trade Urias, they could still have a prospect of interest in Grant Holmes, their top pick in last year’s draft. Holmes was rumored to be on the Tigers’ draft list before the Dodgers got him one pick before the Tigers came up. Like Urias, he’s a teenager, just 19 years old. Unlike Urias, Holmes is still in A-ball, currently in the Midwest League. He’d be an upside play, and probably not somebody who would help the Tigers win in 2016. But if the Tigers are going to give up the chance at a compensation pick in next year’s draft by trading Price, Holmes essentially fills that type of slot, a little better than that if you go by draft order.
The Dodgers have a much closer to ready youngster in Zach Lee, who made his Major League debut last weekend at age 23. You’d get more out of him now than the other guys, and the young right-hander could slot into the rotation almost immediately. Those who track the Tigers, however, question whether he’s their type of young pitcher. Still, if rebooting for next year is the primary goal, he’s closer than the others.
Other teams have prospect packages that might get noticed. The Tigers had a Major League scout at Double-A Erie last weekend to watch the Giants’ Double-A team,
including notably former first-round pick Tyler Beede in a start. He’s struggling to adjust to the Eastern League, having been rushed up, but the talent is noticeably. The Blue Jays have good young pitching, including Daniel Norris (wasn’t he a Rookie of the Year candidate) at Triple-A, but they need a lot of it right now, evidenced by Aaron Sanchez moving off the DL and into the bullpen after showing signs of success in the rotation earlier this year.
If the Tigers can’t precisely match up on prospects, there’s this: The Dodgers were willing to take on extra players and contracts a few years ago to swing a deal with the Red Sox and get Adrian Gonzalez, taking on Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford as well. It’s a much higher payroll the Dodgers have now, but when you’re carrying that kind of luxury tax already, adding another contract for the chance at a postseason rotation with Price, Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke makes it an intriguing consideration. That’s something probably no other team would be able to do. It’s not even clear the Dodgers would do it, but it’s in their history.