Interesting bit by Joe Strauss on the radio earlier this week in which he suggested that the St. Louis Cardinals might, instead of making a move for free agent Max Scherzer, trade for current Detroit Tigers hurler David Price.
I don't disagree that Detroit is the most likely landing place for Scherzer, a native St. Louisan who has pitched for the Tigers since 2010. And, if Scherzer signs a long term deal to return, the Tigers likely won't have room either on the payroll or in the starting rotation, for Price. I also don't agree that the very talented Carlos Martinez hasn't proved he has the consistency to be a major league starter.
But, if people are freaking out about the idea of St. Louis signing Scherzer to a lucrative contract, how can a trade for Price be a good idea?
Price is a free agent at the end of 2015 and would likely cost the Redbirds a lot more than money to land. It would almost certainly take an impressive package of young talent to get a pitcher of Price's ability in a trade. It's not as if the Tigers would just give such a valuable piece away -- or as if there wouldn't be any competition. So are the Cardinals supposed to give up Martinez, Marco Gonzalez and Stephen Piscotty on a one-year rental? Or would they land Price and then try to sign him to a long term deal?
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Scherzer would only cost money. Price could cost several valuable players AND the same amount or money or more to retain on a long term deal.
There are some that believe the Cardinals have an advantage in landing Scherzer because he's from this area and grew up a Redbirds fan. The market also seems depressed for Scherzer with the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers supposedly out of the bidding, the San Francisco Giants supposedly out of money and the Boston Red Sox without an obviously available spot in the rotation. Scherzer's asking price of $200 million seems like a pipe dream.
Price has no such ties to St. Louis and the market could be completely different in a year. Price, who has the added attraction of being a lefty, might hit the $200 million mark ala fellow lefty Clayton Kershaw.
Because of the extra money MLB franchises got from the new national television contract, the Cardinals could far easier afford to part with the cash than they could stand to give up talent. Especially considering the loss of Oscar Taveras to a tragic crash and Shelby Miller in a trade.
The only way I'd see such a deal as even semi palatable would be if the Cardinals were able to sign Price to an extension before such a trade could be completed. But, even then, if the team was going to invest in pitching, I would prefer it keep its young players and sign Scherzer.