After the first two moves of the run-up toward the non-waiver trade deadline -- the Jeff Samardzija acquisition by the Oakland Athletics and the Huston Street deal completed Friday by the Anaheim Angels -- it seems prices are high for replacement parts.
Both the A's and the Angels had to part with the gems of their farm system to land B+ type players. I shudder to think about how much it would cost to land the elite players like David Price, Giancarlo Stanton or Troy Tulowitzki?
If the St. Louis Cardinals try to make a big splash, they might be best to wait until after the trade deadline to see if prices come down.
Cliff Lee, for example, is a guy who might be more accessible in August.
First, by waiting, the Redbirds would have a better chance to assess the health of a pitcher who is set to come off the disabled list Monday after spending two months trying to nurse an elbow injury back to health.
Second, if the Phillies can't find another taker before the trade deadline, it's likely that the serious customers will be separated from the lookey loos by Lee's contract. Any club that would try to block a deal by the Cardinals would risk taking on the left starters full contract if they made a waiver claim. I'm not sure if the Milwaukee Brewers, Cincinnati Reds or Pittsburgh Pirates could afford to claim Lee at the price of $25 million in 2015 and a $14.5-million buy out in 2016 if the acquiring club doesn't want to pay $27.5 million for his services for another season.
The best way to improve the Birds might be to wait for Lee to be put through waivers -- as he was last season -- and put in a claim. Maybe the Birds can can negotiate a deal sending a middling prospect or two to the Phillies. Or, maybe, the Phillies will just dump his contract on St. Louis.
Either way, I'd rather see the Cardianals keep Carlos Martinez, Oscar Taveras and Trevor Rosenthal and pay Lee $25 million in 2015 than see them send some or all of those players away for the right to pay David Price $20 million.