As the baseball industry readies for the possibility that Detroit Tigers ace David Price will become available on the trade market — which could occur as early as Sunday or Monday — here are two key details to remember:
• The Tigers aren’t necessarily opposed to granting a 48-hour window during which the acquiring team could negotiate a possible contract extension with Price, a free agent after this season. While such windows are rare in Major League Baseball trades, a high-ranking Tigers official said the team has no policy against them. (The added years of control could increase the caliber of players the Tigers receive in return.)
• Sources say the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, Toronto Blue Jays and Chicago Cubs have interest in Price. To obtain the left-hander, a team almost certainly would need to surrender a pitcher who fits into the Tigers’ 2016 rotation.
The Tigers boasted one of the most dominant pitching staffs in baseball history as recently as 2013, when their 1,428 strikeouts set what was then a single-season MLB record. Now pitching has become the Tigers’ most glaring weakness.
Price and fellow starter Alfredo Simon are eligible for free agency after this season, leaving Anibal Sanchez and Justin Verlander, both of whom have struggled in 2015, as the top returning starters.
Consider this frightening statistic: The Detroit starters under contract or control for 2016 have combined to win only 18 games in the majors this year. (That group includes the perplexing Shane Greene and injured Kyle Lobstein, as well as Kyle Ryan and Buck Farmer, both of whom have returned to the minor leagues.)
In that sense, the Dodgers, Giants and Blue Jays offer the best trade fits for Detroit. By contrast, the top pitchers in the Cubs’ system have had disappointing seasons: right-hander C.J. Edwards has moved to the bullpen because of serious control problems, and right-hander Duane Underwood has been on the disabled list since late June.
The Dodgers are said to be highly reluctant to move left-hander Julio Urias, but Double-A right-hander Jose De Leon should be ready to join a major-league rotation by next year.
The Giants, meanwhile, have a number of pitching prospects who could be major-league-ready by next year: Tyler Beede, Joe Biagini and Kelvin Marte at Double-A and Keury Mella at high Class A.
And while the Blue Jays appear unlikely to trade the injured Marcus Stroman in any deal — he’s out for the season after knee surgery — they have pitching prospects Daniel Norris and Jeff Hoffman in the upper minors.