The Brewers, by defeating the Rays the next three days, could improve their chances in two different races.
Their realistic bid for the NL Central title.
And their unlikely bid to land Rays left-hander David Price.
The Brewers are among the teams to express interest in Price, according to major league sources. Their inquiry was akin to putting their "foot in the water," one source said.
The Rays, however, are still mulling whether they will even trade Price. They enter Monday’s play 7-1/2 games out in the American League East and stand only a 7 percent chance of winning the division and 13.5 percent chance of reaching the postseason, according to Fangraphs.
A sweep by the Brewers leading to Thursday’s non-waiver deadline at 4 p.m. ET would make those odds even steeper. Even then, the Brewers would be a long shot to land Price, particularly when the division rival Cardinals, another potential suitor for the All-Star left-hander, possess one of the deepest farm systems in baseball.
The Mariners and Dodgers also are in the mix for Price, sources say, and some within the industry believe that the Cubs will make a play for the All-Star lefty, who has a 1.88 ERA in his past 11 starts and a major-league-leading 183 strikeouts and only 21 walks on the season.
The Brewers’ chances would hinge in part on owner Mark Attanasio, who often is aggressive in trying to obtain talent. The team’s only two playoff appearances in the past 31 years came after Attanasio authorized general manager Doug Melvin to trade for elite starters — CC Sabathia in the July 2008 and Zack Greinke in December 2010.
Price, 28, would give the Brewers the ace that they currently lack. And though the team’s farm system is rated next-to-last in the majors by Baseball America, the organization is not devoid of prospects.
Foremost among them: Right-hander Jimmy Nelson, who has a 1.46 ERA in 111 innings at Triple-A this season and a 5.06 ERA in 16 innings in the majors. The Brewers also boast several promising position players in the Class A Florida State and Midwest leagues, including center fielder Tyrone Taylor, 20; shortstop Orlando Arcia, 19; and catcher Clint Coulter, 20.
The Rays, though, almost certainly could get players closer to the majors from other clubs. The Brewers also might determine that Price ultimately would be too expensive. His salary could jump to as much as $20 million next season in his final year of arbitration before free agency, likely reducing the number of suitors if his next team wanted to trade him this offseason.
The next three games could help determine whether trade conversations accelerate. Every team interested in Price should, at the very least, root for the Brewers to win the first two.
Price’s next scheduled start is the third game against Milwaukee, Wednesday at 12:10 p.m. ET.