There have been rumblings for the past several weeks that the St. Louis Cardinals are interested in acquiring Tampa Bay Rays left-hander David Price.
The Cardinals, who played host to the Rays on Tuesday and Wednesday at Busch Stadium, could be looking to fortify a rotation led by Adam Wainwright and Lance Lynn.
Michael Wacha is on the disabled list until September with a stress reaction in his right shoulder, Shelby Miller is battling fatigue, Joe Kelly has only recently returned from the DL and Carlos Martinez, for the time being, has been moved to the bullpen.
The 28-year-old Price (10-7, 3.06 ERA) would make sense for the Cardinals, who with a postseason rotation of Wainwright, Lynn and Price could match up with almost any potential opponent.
The asking price for Price, of course, would be great, with the Cardinals possibly having to include prized prospect Oscar Taveras in any deal, as well as other young talent.
One of Price's teammates and closest friends is veteran third baseman Evan Longoria, who's in no hurry to see Price leave, especially with Tampa Bay playing itself into playoff contention after a horrendous start to the season.
"I feel like we've done as much as we possibly could have to make the decision tougher (for management)," Longoria said. "I hate speculating and I hate having to think about or talk about what I think is going to happen.
"I'll just say that I firmly believe that whatever the decision is, Andrew (Friedman, the Rays' general manager) and the front office will have the best interests of the team going forward at heart. If they feel that keeping David here is the decision, then we'll understand that they see and respect our efforts and really believe in this team making a playoff push.
"If it's the other way around, then we look at it as business as usual. You can't give up; you can't cash it in. But I've said it before: There's really no replacing David Price. If he's not here, it's going to be a tough pill to swallow that day."
Price, Longoria, Matt Joyce and other Rays players came to Busch Stadium on Sunday. Price tweeted photos of his vantage point from a standing room-only section in left field.
Price, who is earning $14 million this season, is under team control through next season. If the Cardinals were to acquire him, they almost certainly would want to reach a long-term contract. Price could demand at least $20 million per season.
Longoria said Price is well aware that a trade is a real possibility, whether it's to the Cardinals or any other team.
"We ate lunch today and he was saying that if he had to pitch against us in the near future, he would be an emotional wreck," Longoria said. "I think it would be the same for all of us. He's a guy you've been showering next to and hanging out in the clubhouse playing cards with for the past six years, for three-quarters of the year.
"I hope we can play the rest of the year with him and a decision can be made after that. He's such a cheerleader in the dugout and such a presence in here. Outside of him being on the mound, that would be the hardest thing to replace."
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny set the rotation for the weekend series against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.
Kelly (2-1, 2.84 ERA) will pitch at 3:05 p.m. Friday against Travis Wood (7-9, 5.12 ERA). Miller (7-8, 4.25 ERA) will work at 3:05 p.m. Saturday against Jake Arrieta (5-2, 2.12 ERA), and Wainwright (12-5, 2.02 ERA) will try to rebound from his rough start when he pitches at 1:20 p.m. Sunday against rookie Kyle Hendricks (1-0, 2.77 ERA).
Because of off days Thursday and Monday, Martinez (2-4, 4.57 ERA) will not be needed in the rotation again until Aug. 2 against the first-place Milwaukee Brewers. It's not a given, however, that he will receive the start. The Cardinals are evaluating all possibilities.
Matheny remains bullish on the 22-year-old Martinez's future as a starter, but said he needs to work through a few things in the pen before reclaiming a rotation spot.
Rookie Nick Greenwood was optioned to Class AAA Memphis on Wednesday when Kevin Siegrist was activated. Greenwood, who pitched two scoreless innings Tuesday, is 1-1 with a 4.74 ERA in nine games since June 16.
"Terrific impression," Matheny said of Greenwood, 26. "That was a conversation we had with him. What he did wasn't just coming in and filling a spot. He bailed us out of some huge predicaments. He really impressed us every time we gave him a chance. He's very resilient and he got outs."
Cards gain pick
The Cardinals on Wednesday received the No. 3 pick in the Competitive Balance Lottery.
Their pick, which will be in Round A, will follow Miami's and Colorado's immediately after the first round of the amateur draft.
The Competitive Balance Lottery gives an extra pick to teams that have either one of the 10 smallest markets or one of the 10 smallest revenue pools.