Price to Mariners? I just don’t see it
I realize the David Price rumors have been fun for baseball fans and the Mariners keep getting tossed into the mix of reports involving the Rays ace, but realistically that has always seemed like an extremely remote match to me.
And that thought became further engrained this morning when Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported that Price’s agent said his client would not consider a contract extension with Seattle, if the club traded for him, though he would be open to such a negotiation with some other undisclosed clubs.
That doesn’t change the fact the Mariners — or any club that acquired the 2012 AL Cy Young winner — would still have two years of Price before he hits free agency. But it does drive home the reminder that Price would quite likely be a short-term help, for an extremely high cost.
Jack Zduriencik already indicated he has no desire to part with Taijuan Walker, who is one of the premier pitching prospects in baseball and is under the Mariners’ control for six more seasons, including the next three at a very low cost.
Yes, Zduriencik was willing to include Walker last year in the failed Justin Upton deal, but that was before fellow top-prospect Danny Hultzen was hit by shoulder issues that now have sidelined him through the upcoming year. Not to mention before Walker progressed impressively with another strong season culminated with several strong outings at the Major League level in September that further raised the belief that the 21-year-old appears to be a very special talent.
Reports circulated Tuesday that the Mariners might consider including catcher Mike Zunino in a deal for Price as people attempted to find a way Seattle might still come up with a package attractive enough to entice the Rays. But let’s get real here. The Mariners need Zunino. He’s not just a top-rated prospect, he’s their starting catcher. The only other catcher on the 40-man roster at the moment is another youngster, Jesus Sucre, who has eight games of Major League experience.
Zunino is the catcher the Mariners love and are building their future around, a guy who already has shown an excellent ability to work with pitchers and handle things behind the plate. The offense will come, but he’s already a quality defender at age 22. And it doesn’t matter if you sign the best pitching staff in the game, you do still need somebody to catch them effectively to maximize their talents.
I suppose the Mariners could wheel and deal for a veteran catcher in addition to acquiring Price, but that seems like a longshot. More likely, they’ll put their resources toward adding a right-handed bat, another veteran starter, some bullpen help and maybe a veteran backup catcher to work with Zunino if they still have some change in the drawer.
Today is the last main day of the Winter Meetings, with the Rule 5 draft coming Thursday before teams scatter back to their respective homes. As often happens, there has been much talk, but not a ton of action so far at the meetings. A lot of deals happened last week, the remaining free agents seem to be playing the waiting game, and teams have done more talking than trading or signing players here in Orlando.
But some of these talks will trigger deals after teams go home and mull over their options and I expect a few dominos will fall soon that will help determine what comes next for Seattle and other teams still looking to make moves.
I just wouldn’t expect Price to be a move the Mariners are involved in, no matter how many rumors have floated with those two parties mentioned this week in the lobby of Walt Disney’s Dolphin hotel.