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For Tribe, the Price IS Right

For Tribe, the Price IS Right
January 18, 2014
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It’s been a long time since the Indians have had a legitimate, home grown major league star rise through its ranks. You have to go back to the Tribe’s heyday in the mid-nineties when it seemed like they just turned on a faucet and poured out talent like Albert BelleJim ThomeManny Ramirez,Brian Giles and Richie Sexson.

But it appears they now have a star in the making in young shortstop Francisco Lindor, who is currently primed for AAA and sits atop the Cleveland Indians’ prospect chart at number one. So, what should the team do with Lindor as the heir apparent to Asdrubal Cabrera prepares to make the jump to the big time?

Trade him.

What? He’s the best young talent to emerge from the system in decades! Why would any intelligent front office do such a thing?

David Price. That’s why.

And here are the reasons that a Price for Lindor and Trevor Bauer package makes sense for both teams.

1) The Rays need to move Price – Tampa Bay is in a bit of a quandary with Price. He’s talented but getting too rich for their blood, and with two years left on his contract, he’s not getting any cheaper. Nor is the southpaw going to ever bring more in return than he is this off-season. The Rays have already shown they are not averse to dealing high-end pitching for top prospects as they netted Wil Myers last off-season for James Shields.

2) Price is a legitimate number one starter – The Indians are also at a crossroads. They spent a decent amount of cash last year on Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn. They currently have a window of opportunity to win now after reaching the 92-victory threshold to punch their ticket to the playoffs in 2013. But the starting pitching took a hit whenUbaldo Jimenez, who carried them to the finish line on his back, bolted for free agency and the pleasantly surprising Scott Kazmir left as well. There is a gaping hole in that rotation, and rather than doling out huge money to hit and miss free agents like Ubaldo, they could pay up with prospects and nab what they truly need, a real number one.

3) It takes pressure off of Masterson and Salazar – Justin Masterson has done a yeoman’s job of heading this rotation, but he’s a tad out of his element. He is a fantastic pitcher, but to place the burden of being the ace on him is unfair. Rookie Danny Salazar has shown front-end stuff, but to set too high expectations on the youngster could bring issues as he continues to build up strength from Tommy John surgery. Having Price and Masterson carrying the load would lessen the importance of Salazar feeling the need to suck it up and overextend himself late into games.

4) Price is the left-handed starter you don’t have – It was refreshing in 2013 to once again have a southpaw trotting out to the hill every fifth day when Kazmir reemerged as a viable major leaguer. To have an all-right rotation is never a good thing. Price bringing it from the other side gives opposing hitters a different look and makes the entire staff better.

5) Lindor is good, but he’s not elite – Francisco Lindor is going to be a very good shortstop in the major leagues. He is likely projected to hit for average, steal a few bases and flash an extremely smooth glove at short. But he is not going to ever hit with much power. While it will hurt to deal him because of all that is invested in time and money, the Indians have depth at the position and several other alternatives they can maybe turn to – Jose Ramirezto name one.

Tampa Bay has a similar prospect in shortstop  Hak-Ju Lee, but Lee doesn’t rate out as highly as Lindor, plus he is coming off of ligament surgery, which for a shortstop could be a dicey proposition in the future.

Some would argue as well, that Bauer has so many issues that the sheen is off his value. However, the former #1 pick has a very live arm and reports are encouraging which have him steadily working his way back to the form he showed in college to earn him his high-prospect status.

In any event, for the Rays to get a middle infielder with the abilities of Lindor would be the key to any deal, and Bauer could be the power arm they could seek to replenish their ever-stocked cupboard of pitching talent.

As for the Indians, 2014 is a pivotal year for the organization for numerous reasons. Finally arousing some interest from a scorned fan base that even failed to strongly support a winner after so many horrendous seasons, the Tribe has a chance to solidify themselves as a legitimate contender with back-to-back playoff appearances and a move for Price could be a move that pays off both in wins and at the gate.

Losing Lindor would be a blow, but getting a powerful piece at the top of your rotation for two years would be a huge plus for the Indians right now. The team is built to win, the offense is good enough, and pitching is what gets you to the dance.

A consistent rotation is what helped the Tribe to the success they experienced in 2013, and it will be key again this year. The difference is, with Price taking the lead, the Indians become a formidable playoff opponent.

Cleveland has struggled to match the powerful staff of the Detroit Tigers over the last few seasons. Justin VerlanderMax Scherzer and Anibal Sanchez head up a fearsome threesome that makes the Tigers the team to beat – not only in the AL Central but also in the American League.

With the recent signing of the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw to an astronomical $30 million annual salary, it puts in perspective just how important high-end pitching has become if any team hopes to contend for a title. But the Indians don’t have $30 million to spend…though they do have Lindor.

Getting Price would slot every starter down one spot. Imagine the strength of the team as the Indians would be able to throw Price, Masterson, Salazar, the emerging Corey Kluber and Zack McAllister over the course of a regular season. Barring a total offensive collapse, you’d have a chance to win every night out.

We saw in 2013 how important it is to win the division, as the Indians fell in a one-game playoff. But that rotation would give them a fighting chance to do just that. And if pitching gets you to the dance, great pitching can get you crowned king.

Price, Masterson and Salazar would put the Indians on even ground with any rotation, and make them better than most. Isn’t winning a championship the goal here? That team could do it.

And be assured, Price is no Ubaldo. He’s been through the battles of the tough AL East, and isn’t switching leagues. Nor has his body been abused by the thin air of Colorado.

So, whatever price they have to pay in prospects, it sure beats paying $30 million a year. Regardless, if the Indians would end up making the playoffs or not, it would be an exciting PR move for the Tribe to reconnect with their fan base, and at least give the team a fighting chance to make a repeat appearance for a deeper playoff run.

User Comments

Jon
January 21, 2014 - 12:30 PM EST
It's nice to dream, but how in the heck are we going to pay for 2 years of Price? We're capped out as it is in terms of dollars. We can't magically add another 16 million in his next arbitration year and 18 million after that as the cost for Price will increase with his service time. You'd have to dump Bourn or Cabrera immediately and you will get next to nothing for both of those players in a trade as they both had down years last year. That's not taking into consideration that Masterson is a free agent after 2014. Then you go back to having a hole in your rotation. He also lost 2 mph on his fastball as per fangraphs.

The best hope for the Tribe is to work on developing Bauer and hope he gives you league average production next year. He's only 23 (just turned on January 17th). To make it to the majors at such a young age is impressive. He's still got time to figure it out.
Daryl
January 21, 2014 - 12:18 PM EST
As a Tampa Bay fan first (but grew up loving the Tribe) I can say for certain that Price is a super-two player that is under team control until after the '15 season. That being said, I would love to see Lindor play at Durham on his way to the Bay, but Bauer seems to be tainted goods right now due to the off year and reputation he gained in Arizona. Andrew Freedmen likes pitchers with the kind of rep and pedigree that Salazar brings to the table, and I think that considering the haul he got for Shields (and rumors of what he wanted from Seattle, Walker and Franklin) I think any package would have to start with Salazar and Lindor
John
January 21, 2014 - 10:17 AM EST
I find it interesting that commenters pile on the negativity and claim this is a Fantasy trade, or trading Nettle and Chambliss.

POINT 1) For those who claim I have no facts, then say Price is a 1-year rental, he is not. He is under control for two years.

POINT 2) For those claiming Price is too expensive at $14 million per, have you not been following escalating prices of pitching this off-season? Signing Ubaldo will likely cost $12M per. Which brings me to this...

POINT 3) In saying Price is no Ubaldo, he's not. Price, 27, is a LHP in his prime who sports CAREER numbers of 71-39 with an ERA of 3.19, all while playing in the AL, not to mention an imbalanced schedule in the AL EAST.
Ubaldo, meanwhile, is also in his prime at 29, has career numbers of 82-75, of which many of the good numbers came in the NL. Have you not been paying attention over the duration of his stay in CLE? Before last year's stellar rebound, Ubaldo had the sparkling ERAs of 4.68 / 4.46 / 5.10 / 5.40. The one thing I would vow not to do is give HIM a multi-year deal worth $12 per. Clayton Kershaw is making $30M/yr and you won't give David Price $14?

POINT 4) No, the Indians don't have a lot of money, but if you read up at all on the subject, you get the understanding that the Rays are on one of the tightest budgets in the majors, and in fact prob have less flexibility than the Tribe. Obviously, if the Indians got Price, they would adjust accordingly. You guys act like I live in a fantasy world and have no idea how things work. I said a package "consisting of" Lindor and Bauer, not solely limited to those two.

POINT 5) I would never trade Danny Salazar for anyone. Dude came to play and instantly showed he belongs.

POINT 6) Lindor and the word "elite' are relative. He's gonna be a solid player, maybe a great one, but how many of you guys KNOW that he is going elite? I know I was pretty excited about Drew Pomeranz, and thought Alex White was gonna be a good #3. I was torn when the Tribe dealt them for Ubaldo. You just never know. The Rockies did, that's why they dealt Ubaldo, he was horrible til last year. The Rays are looking at moving Price because of money, not future performance. (BTW, the post I put most stock in was the guy who sees Price regularly...that I can listen to). Fact is, don't hitch your wagon to any prospects, because that's what they are. They may or may not work out in the end.

Wrapping this up, I appreciate the input, this is all meant to stir discussion anyway. It's an idea that the Tribe may have opportunity to contend now and finding a LHP to lead your rotation is much tougher to find than a shortstop. Tampa may not agree to the deal, I never said they would, I just used the Lindor/Bauer package as a starting point. Obviously, any final deal would have to be seen before anyone could say they liked it or not, so thanks for caring! GO TRIBE
Hermie13
January 21, 2014 - 10:15 AM EST
My issue with dealing for Price while I agree he is a legitimate number one starter as stated in the article, I'm not sold he's a truly elite starting pitcher. He's been pretty darn consistent over the last 3 years with a 4.5 fWAR average, 8th in baseball over that time. But he's never had a truly phenomenal season where he was a top 5 pitcher in the game. No Max Scherzer type year. Maybe Price is primed for a breakout in 2014 and will elevate his game to that next level, but as it stands now, I'm not convinced he's worth Lindor + what it'd take to get him, at least not to a team like Cleveland. If it was just LIndor and Anderson then maybe I'd do it, but Salazar and LIndor is probably what it'd take and just not sold that puts us over the top and it really hurts us for 2015 and beyond IMO.

Consider too that Doug Fister has been nearly as good (fWAR was 0.1 different the last 3 seasons) and didn't get anywhere near what is being rumored the Rays want for Price. Is Price so much better than Fister that he needs Lindor + a lot? Maybe but if I'm Cleveland I don't do it.
Jim
January 20, 2014 - 2:02 PM EST
I would trade Lindor and a package of players for Sale in a heartbeat. I'd likely include Cody Anderson or Danny Salazar in that deal as well.

Big fan of Sale, and the controllability factor is massive IMO. His stuff is absolutely elite.
Mike
January 20, 2014 - 1:13 PM EST
I'd consider a Lindor trade for Chris Sale, and admit lots more would need to be included in that deal, even with the injury risk, but not Price. Sale's contract (signed through 2017 with club options in 18 and 19), offers lots more potential value than just two years of a very expensive FOR guy like Price.
John L.
January 19, 2014 - 9:43 AM EST
Price said a few years ago he wouldn't play for the Indians because of their logo, don't know about if he has a no trade clause but he doesn't want to play in Cleveland.
Matthew
January 19, 2014 - 8:25 AM EST
David Price is not a free agent after this season. He has 2 seasons left before free agency.
ted
January 19, 2014 - 3:03 AM EST
Why don't you wake up and smell what it is you're shoveling? This was the only article or interview or anything else where anyone says that Lindor is not an impact prospect.

You're also misinformed. I have read everywhere that Price will be a free agent after this season. So let's see. You want the top two prospects in the Indians system for a outstanding pitcher for one year.

You think by saying they aren't so good, the Indians FO will just say "well okay then?" Lidor and Bauer are still highly regarded. If they aren't big time prospects, why not take Carrasco and Ronnie Rodriguez? Or even Rameriz, you think he is capable of playing shortstop for the Indians.

Back in the 70's I visited a friend in Detroit. His family were all Tiger fans. But I liked them anyway. One of the family was quite young, maybe late elementary school age. He wanted the Tigers to trade their third baseman (I don't remember his name,) for Mike Schmidt. That was the only trade proposal I ever heard before this article.
Norm
January 19, 2014 - 2:02 AM EST
I am curious to know why any writer or poster would think that the Indians could afford Price when Tampa cannot. Are other teams going to subsidize this gesture?
Joe Chengery
January 18, 2014 - 7:29 PM EST
Last comment- should be enamored, not enamel. Autocorrect- argh.
Joe Chengery
January 18, 2014 - 7:28 PM EST
Intriguing idea, but I think quite unrealistic. The Rays would definitely require a third piece, probably a Salazar or Anderson, or at least a Colon; two alone won't do it, and especially with Bauer's issues.

Like Jeff, I, too, am not that enamel red with Price- is he a solid, above-average pitcher? Sure. Is he better than Jimenez or Masterson? I really can't say that he is. Until he beat Texas in that one-game tie breaker last year, he had not fared well in the postseason the past few years (vs. BAL and BOS), and he's been erratic the past years in the regular season, to the point where I think he's fallen off the past few years, unlike what Jimenez did last year.

If you could trade for Price, you'd just be shortening the window, whereas if you resigned Jimenez, you'd be lengthening the window, as I've mentioned in other Jimenez threads. Add in Salazar and Anderson, and the Indians likely could contend for the rest of this decade when you add in the likes of Lindor, Aguilar, and Moncrief. Even if losing Masterson (which is the likelier scenario in my opinion), you still gain a draft pick. In the Price scenario, you'd really have that strengthened rotation for one year, not two, since I don't think Masterson is here beyond 2014.
Roger
January 18, 2014 - 6:47 PM EST
i think the idea of trading salazar lindor or anderson is fixing the dyke with a finger you do not market the future for today this team is not that far away from the world series as it is constucted today. They were one of ten eams out of 30 to make the playoffs. albiet only a one game playoff but made it nonethe less. Lets try to sign one more starter and take our chances with what we have in the system.
LeaguePark
January 18, 2014 - 6:00 PM EST
Hey John:

I bet you were excited when the Indians traded Craig Nettles and Chris Chambliss to the Yankees. Remember all that great talent we got back?

P.S. Are you visiting Colorado?
Jeff
January 18, 2014 - 5:55 PM EST
On top of all the arguments below, Price isn't all he's cracked up to be. I live in the Tampa Bay area and have seen Price quite a bit of TV and in person. He's a very good pitcher BUT he has had some consistency issues coupled with playoff issues outside of his first cup of coffee in MLB.

One thing I've noticed it that Price does not consistently bounce back from bad outings. This past year was emblematic of problems he's had through his career. The Indians tagged him in his second start. He rebounded in the next game when he needed to get past Boston, but struggled the rest of the month (by his standards). Price's struggles are hardly terrible - it means he let's in 4-5 runs consistently for about a month - but they should make you think twice about not just paying the guy $14M, but also giving up at least two top prospects for him.

He got things together when he left with an injury for a bit, but it wasn't just an injury that caused him problems. I really think the Indians getting him for eight runs made him lose a lot of confidence. He doesn't have the nerves of steel that allow him to rebound easily from a bad outing.

He was excellent when he returned in July, but declined as the year went on despite not having to work as much as normal due to the earlier injury. He then followed that up by giving up nearly a run every inning to the Red Sox in a game the Rays needed. The pressure was on for Price to put the Rays on his shoulders and help them even the series. He collapsed.

Price has collapsed often for the Rays in pressure situations. Incredible talent. Should be a dominant lefty, but he's worse than CC ever was in pressure situations with the Tribe. His nasty stuff and the fact that he's a lefty will drive up his price in free agency and in trade, but buyer beware.

I'd rather spend that money on Ubaldo and hope that he figured it out last year. At least then we have some high end potential coupled with keeping more high end potential in Salazar and Lindor. Because the Rays will ask for Salazar and Lindor for starters. I'd also guess Cody Anderson or another high end pitcher further down. Rarely do the Rays trade a pitcher and not get two back in return. They will look for a much bigger haul than they got for Shields, though I'd rather have Big Game James over Price. Shields always shows up when you need him.
Themaven
January 18, 2014 - 5:46 PM EST
The Rays have a contending team and control over Price for two more seasons.The Tribe would have to pony up way more than Lindor and Bauer for the Rays to deal him.

Try Lindor, Salazar and Anderson as a starting point.If you think that's too much,look at what they got for James Shields and think again.
Frank
January 18, 2014 - 5:42 PM EST
Agree with most of the commenters. The concept of a window of contention is really what gm's do to justify short sighted moves. You need to develop studs like lindor whom you control for years. Trading the farm for one or two years of a player usually ends in you falling short and having holes all over your roster.
Valbuena
January 18, 2014 - 4:03 PM EST
Agreed with Seth, No reason to lose Lindor when Ubaldo can be had for a potentially below market deal.

The Rays are way overvaluing Price and the tribe would do well to stay away.
anonymous
January 18, 2014 - 4:02 PM EST
I think Matthew, Jeff, Seth, Robert, and Jay all make good points and have hit the issues on the head.

We currently can't afford Price without trading Bourn or Cabrera, and either of those depletes our offense and is counter-intuitive to improving overall.

The Rays absolutely won't accept any offer without getting AT LEAST Lindor + 1 other stud (think more Salazar than Cody Anderson)... and that's not something a team that builds from within like the Indians can afford to do. Selling low on Bauer would also be a bad idea, not that I particularly think he'll figure it out, but he'd basically be a "throw-in" like Lindor+Salazar+Bauer/Anderson and that's just too much for us to do because you'd also be subtracting Bourn or Cabrera from the offense. Not to mention Salazar could eventually be a David Price type starter and giving him up in any deal isn't acceptable for this team.

Does anyone else think the Tribe is preparing Aviles to start full-time at SS with Santana covering 3B against lefties (while Chiz faces righties)? Aviles used to face lefties at 3B, but with Santana moving there it frees Aviles up to play somewhere else (SS perhaps?) - thus leading me to speculate on a Cabby trade.

While we do have some "depth" at SS with Paulino, he won't be ready until around 2016 and he seems likely, based on scouting reports, to change positions as defensively he doesn't look like he can stick at SS - probably 2B or 3B.

Overall I just don't see a fit unless the Rays come down to Lindor + 1 non essential prospect/player (no Santana or Salazar) and the Tribe finds a creative way to free up money
Jim
January 18, 2014 - 3:19 PM EST
I like Price but I'd rather send out a Santana whose drifting away from catcher than Lindor.

I really disagree with the notion that Lindor isn't elite and seems like you threw that in there to bolster your argument, which is off base anyways. He might not be an elite power hitter but he grades out as elite is 5-6 other categories. Let's not forget he just turned 20 and primed to make it to AAA.

Seems like a really shortsighted article.
Nick
January 18, 2014 - 2:43 PM EST
No, No, No, NO.......Please don't do this! I feel like this article downplays Lindor's potential saying that he won't be "great." Gold glove caliber SS with .300+ potential and decent speed....That sort of talent doesn't exactly grow on trees. I'd much rather sign Ubaldo if we're going to add starting pitching.
Roger
January 18, 2014 - 2:41 PM EST
according to dan mannanoff of the plane dealer and ohio.com
the indians offered slightly over 8 mill and masty asked for 11.8 million. For a purely pr basis the indians insulted justin being roughly 2/3rds oof his projected value. i can see 10 mill aND 12mill but to insult masterson at 8 million to me is not gonna enamor him as feeling appreciated. he is in control in 10 short months this close to FA is not the tme to makehim feel insulted and 8million (a lot of money) and 12 million (a lot more cash) is substantially different leagues money wise. it could give masty an attitude problem after this year. and frankly i dont blame him if it does
Jay
January 18, 2014 - 2:17 PM EST
Trading top-end talent for short-term fixes is what puts an organization in a position where they have gaping holes that need short term fixes.

In order to build a consistent competitor from small-market resources you need to horde resources, not flip them for short-term solutions. Just look at the Rays - by trading Shields they did opposite of what the article is recommending.

For me, locking in cost-effective, long-term solutions opens up payroll for areas where additions are needed, not the opposite.
Robert
January 18, 2014 - 1:55 PM EST
I do think that another stud pitcher would help this team a great deal. And that's why I still hope that they will sign Ubaldo. However, paying top dollar for two years of Price is NOT a good idea.

I think that Seth has it right. If you're going to spend $14m to $17m (next year) on Price, why not spend it on someone else and keep Lindor/Bauer-plus? Price is being severely over-valued by Tampa right now, and gutting our depleted-but-rebuilding farm system is the last thing the Tribe should be doing. Not to mention that selling low on Bauer is a truly terrible idea!
Seth
January 18, 2014 - 1:25 PM EST
The thing is, Price would likely be more expensive than Ubaldo for the 2 years they'd control him. So why not keep Lindor and Bauer and sign Ubaldo if you have the money to pay Price?
Bill
January 18, 2014 - 12:44 PM EST
David Price's velocity was the lowest last year as its been in his whole career, possible wear and tear on that arm... No Thanks
Tony
January 18, 2014 - 12:28 PM EST
Of course, the Rays obviously have yet to trade Price, so no one is meeting their asking price. And the longer he stays a Ray, the less they probably get in return. They are not getting a deal from anyone that nets them three players like Santana, Lindor and Salazar, so the Indians should not have to equal that.

Not saying I would be for such a trade, but it is interesting to consider. I'm a huge fan of Lindor....but the intrigue with Price at the top of the rotation the next two years and with Masterson as the #2 for at least one is inviting. Likely a fantasy....but that's how fans think.
Jeff
January 18, 2014 - 12:24 PM EST
The central problem is that the Rays will want Salazar, Lindor, and someone else (maybe Cody Anderson). So the idea of Price, Salazar, and Masterson is a fantasy. The Rays don't get small returns.
Matthew
January 18, 2014 - 12:22 PM EST
I like Price, and if Lindor/Bauer could actually get him, I think I agree that the Tribe should do it. The problem is, I don't think that package actually gets him. There was a rumor that the Rays asked for Santana, Lindor, and Salazar. I'd be fine with trading one of those guys for Price, but not all of them or even 2 of them.
Tony
January 18, 2014 - 12:09 PM EST
Just be noted that Price is not a free agent after next season. He just signed a one year deal for $14M to avoid arbitration. He will be up for his final year of arbitration next offseason and so long as the Rays (or whatever team he is on) tenders him a contract, they will control him for 2015 as well. So it is 2 years of Price you are getting. Would essentially be the same kind of deal the Royals did.....2 years of Shields for 5-7 years of Myers.
Rich
January 18, 2014 - 12:06 PM EST
Price just signed a one-year contract for $14 million. Next year he's a free agent. What are the odds he signs with Cleveland?

So we're giving up Lindor and Bauer, both of which cost nothing and who we control for years, for one year of David Price?

And by the way, we don't have $14 million to spend unless we trade Asdrubal for prospects, and that only gets us close.

No thanks.

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