The Brewers are among those eyeing Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher David Price, reports Jon Morosi of Fox Sports. According to Morosi's source, the team's inquiries were closer to dipping their "foot in water" as opposed to advanced negotiations.
Milwaukee's plans around trade talks always seem to be a bit murky, with few solid details ever emerging. However, over the past month there have been bits of rumors coming along that the Brewers could indeed be looking at the Rays' ace. Tampa Bay has been, so far, reluctant to trade him but could change their minds very soon as the trade deadline looms.
Price, 28, would automatically become the best pitcher on the roster were a trade to actually happen. He is a former Cy Young winner, a four-time All Star, and has a 3.08 ERA and 1.03 WHIP this season. In fact, 2014 might be his best campaign yet as he has a ridiculous 183:21 K:BB ratio (10.1 K/9, 1.1 BB/9). His biggest problem on the season has been an increase in home run rate -- he has allowed 20 homers already this season, just short of a career-high 22 he allowed in 2011.
However, the cost to acquire Price would be extravagantly high. The fact he is one of the best pitchers and in his prime is enough to elevate his value, but throw in the fact that he is under team control through 2015 and you know the Rays will be looking for a huge package in return. The good news with that is any acquiring team could, theoretically, recoup some of the cost by flipping him in the off season. This would be similar to what the Brewers did with Zack Greinke.
The price in prospects could be prohibitive if the Brewers are serious about making a run for him, however. The Rays turned down a deal centering around Addison Russell, one of the very best prospects in the game. Though their asking price may have been high with more time leading up to the deadline, it's unlikely they would then accept a lesser offer after losing out on Russell.
The Brewers certainly can't match that price in prospects alone. Though the minor league system is both underrated and improving, 95% of the system's talent is still in the lower rungs of the minors. Those players tend to have much less trade value than those closer to the majors, unless they are Byron Buxton-type prospects.
Thus, Milwaukee would have to consider trading from their current major league core. Someone like Jean Segura or Wily Peralta might very well be needed in any such deal. Jimmy Nelson, too. And any of those players would also need additional prospects thrown in. What the Rays won't accept is a Mike Fiers/Taylor Jungmann/Tyler Cravy deal. Any of those players would be a throw-in in a larger deal, with none being close to a centerpiece.
So should the Brewers think about making such a large-scale deal? It worked well with CC Sabathia and Zack Greinke, but this may be a whole 'nother beast. A Price trade may only turn out to be a good deal if the Brewers then win the World Series. If that happens, it doesn't matter what gets the team there. Still, the cost would be immense and would certainly be a punch to the gut no matter what happens.
For now, however, any sort of Price trade is likely only a fantasy for Milwaukee. The expendable pieces aren't there and the Rays are asking for a lot. Tampa Bay is also under no pressure to make a deal. They can always wait until the off season before dealing Price. Though he would help the Brewers' rotation immensely, Price is still likely a pipe-dream.
And it's important to remember that these rumors are "Brewers have some interest" in Price, not "Brewers heavily pursuing Price". Doug Melvin and co should be checking in on what it could take to land any top flight starters are available. That doesn't indicate anything imminent, or any particularly strong interest. Like Morosi's source said, it's just testing the waters quick. If there's sharks, you don't jump.
The Brewers and Rays begin a three-game series tonight, the last the Rays will have before the deadline. The Brewers will get to see Price first-hand when they face him on the 30th.