Amidst the swirling rumors of Tampa Bay Rays ace David Price and his possible destinations, the process harkens back to current Phillies’ pitcher Cliff Lee.
Back in 2010 (and 2009 also, but mainly 2010), Lee had thrown for three teams in two seasons. Nearing the July 2010 trade deadline, the Mariners held the prized lefty but were looking to unload him. After winning the AL Cy Young Award in 2008 touting a 22-3 record, the veteran was well on his way to repeating, with a 2.34 ERA alongside Felix Hernandez. The Yankees, of course, wanted to reunite Lee with his former Indians teammate C.C. Sabathia, and form their own 1-2 knockout.
Price’s situation parallels in multiple fashions; other than the fact that they are Cy Young Award winning lefties. Lee had 7 years of Major League experience, with the first half of 2010 inclusive. Price is fast approaching 6 and a 1/2 years. Granted, Lee was 31 while Price is 28, and Lee was more of a finesse pitcher than Price, but both pitchers were/are in equally high demand. What’s more, the Mariners were playing the Yankees, just like how Price will play the Bombers.
However, traveling back through time, the Lee-to-the-Yanks deal fell through, and the Rangers swooped in while riding Lee to the World Series. In return, the Mariners received Blake Beavan, Josh Lueke, Justin Smoak, and Matt Lawson, proving that minor league prowess does not mean long term longevity. After the season, Cliff Lee promptly left the AL and returned to his Phillies, where he currently earns 25 million.
For the Yankees, acquiring Price should become a priority. During the 2010-11 offseason, the team substituted Price with Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia, which sounds a lot better now than it did back then. Unless the Yankees want to sign Jeff Suppan too, the front office must find another pitcher to help Masahiro Tanaka. Acquiring Price will undoubtedly cost a few top prospects, but game shows such as the aptly named Let’s Make A Deal show the power of a sure thing over the potential of a great pitcher who would be roughly four years younger than Price, or a batter who could become great. But then again, Smoak was rated a top 25 prospect twice by Baseball America, and has a career .225 batting average in the MLB.
If the Yankees acquire David Price, the pitching staff vastly improves. If another team acquires David Price, there is a good chance his team goes far in the postseason.