The St. Louis Cardinals are one of many teams in on Tampa Bay ace David Price, according to Boston Globe writer Nick Cafardo.
But, while the Redbirds have a wealth of prospects, there is one potential hang up that could make them less likely than other teams to make the swap: Cafardo says St. Louis has been insistent on having an opportunity to sign Price to a contract extension before giving up the cream of its farm system to acquire the lefty.
When I read that, I breathed a sigh of relief.
While I am still iffy about the thought about parting with several top prospects, likely including Oscar Taveras and Carlos Martinez, I am totally opposed to the idea of giving up strong, young players in a rental situation.
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Price knows he's going to get about $20 million next season in his last year of arbitration as a worst case scenario. So there's no pressure for him to sign a deal when he knows he could be the subject of a bidding war if he hits the open market. The Cardinals can't afford to forced to give Price a blank check for eight years -- or more -- when we've seen guys like CC Sabathia and Johan Santana blow up after signing mega deals.
It would put the Birds in much better position in a potential playoff battle with a team like the pitching rich Los Angeles Dodgers to be able to stack Adam Wainwright, Price and potentially Michael Wacha up in a short series. But the Cardinals can't afford to give up offense when they're struggling to score runs. Otherwise, they might not make the playoffs at all.
There is no word about Price's willingness to sign an extension with the Cardinals. Rumors up to this point have indicated that he wants a contract similar to the $175-million deal Felix Hernandez signed with the Seattle Mariners. It would be much more palatable for St. Louis to start that sort of deal now and save a year off the back end of the deal and $20 million off the front by skipping the arbitration season.
But, unless the Rays see the Cardinals offer as head and shoulders above those from other teams, it seems likely they'd avoid the headaches and go for an offer with no strings attached. If Price won't sign an extension, negotiating may turn out to be a waste of time.
Cafardo said that the Mariners have no such extension requirement and that Seattle is willing to give up top prospects to get price. Other teams believed to be in on Price include the San Francisco Giants and potentially the Dodgers who seem to have no financial limitations.
Even if it means the Redbirds miss out on Price, I hope St. Louis general manager John Mozeliak sticks to his guns and refuses to trade his top prospects for a rental. I'd rather see the Birds try to make a deal for a more reasonably-priced hurler like Cliff Lee.