Late last week we started a new series called “Dodger Dilemma” in which we analyze the biggest decisions facing LA this off-season. In case you missed our first piece, check out our breakdown of the numerous options the Dodgers have in the outfield this winter.
Today we’re going to focus on starting pitching and in particular, the two names most closely linked to the Dodgers so far — Masahiro Tanaka and David Price. Tanaka, of course, is waiting to be posted from Japan, while Price would need to be traded for (and would be under his new club’s control for two more seasons).
People today talk about how great of a time it is to be a Dodgers fan and I think conversations like this one sum it up best — we’re talking about the two biggest prizes this off-season and depending on who you ask, the Dodgers might be the favorite for both.
In an annual ESPN piece in which they survey league executives, the Dodgers were listed as the favorites to land Tanaka and finished second in the poll of where David Price would end up to the Texas Rangers.
So what’s the best move for the Dodgers? Is trading for Price the answer? Is signing Tanaka to the largest offer sheet ever given to a foreign player the right play?
Let’s start with Price.
If you read a piece I wrote a couple weeks ago about LA’s need to avoid mortgaging the future in favor of the present, then you might have an idea on where I’m coming down here.
My stance on Price is simple: I just don’t think he’s worth it if it means trading away most of the Dodgers’ top prospects.
According to most experts, the Dodgers have four prospects that stand out amongst the farm system — Corey Seager, Julio Urias, Joc Pederson and Zach Lee.
While Pederson and Lee may not be “elite” prospects (although Pederson is probably getting closer and closer), with the farm system as bare as it is in LA, they’re still valuable commodities. In most mock trade proposals, the Dodgers have been projected to part with three or four of the prospects listed.
According to some, they may need to part with all four.
The natural question is, could Price really be worth it?
The answer, in theory, is absolutely.
Since 2010, Price has posted ERAs of 2.72, 3.49, 2.56 and 3.33 while winning 61 games. In 2012, Price was awarded the Cy Young in the American League in large part due to his 20-5 record.
At age 28, Price is likely entering a stretch of his career in which it’s unlikely to expect a large drop-off in production. In fact, a transition to the National League should actually improve his numbers, which is scary when you consider he’d be paired with Clayton Kershaw and Zach Greinke for the next few years (at least).
But is it worth trading your four best prospects for a guy like Price? In a depleted farm system, no less?
For me, the answer is no.
It’s not that I’m opposed to acquiring Price, it’s just that I hate the idea of a team like the Dodgers pushing all their chips into the middle this early on. If the Dodgers were to make the move and win a World Series, hands down the move is worth it. But what if they don’t?
What if injuries derail them for the next couple seasons and the team continues to be successful in the regular season but just can’t break through in October? At that point, the move would be devastating.
Now obviously, acquiring Price would make the Dodgers the league favorite (which they already are) for the next few years thanks to a pitching staff that would probably be historically good.
So why not pull the trigger and take the chance?