The answer, to me, is Tanaka.
As it stands, the Dodgers have three starting pitchers lined up for next season in Kershaw, Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu. With Chad Billingsley due back sometime next season (though not likely by opening day) and Josh Beckett a major question mark, the Dodgers’ No. 4 and 5 starters are up in the air.
Obviously, acquiring both Price and Tanaka would solve that problem, but I’m not so sure the Dodgers need to add two more elite pitchers in order to make themselves that much better.
I think the Dodgers are probably one great starter away from improvement and if I had to choose between signing Tanaka or trading for Price, the difference between the two doesn’t seem large enough to justify the cost of Price.
Both will be expensive (Price will be when they re-sign him), but I’d trade money for prospects any day.
The question with Tanaka is we just aren’t sure how good the guy is. We’ve all seen the ridiculous numbers — the 24-1 record, 1.27 ERA and the 160 pitches he threw in the playoff game (and then 15 more in relief the next day) — but in all honesty, we just don’t know how those translate.
That said, the consensus seems to be that this guy is a lock to be really good. Maybe not Yu Darvish good, but good nonetheless.
For me, I like the idea of maintaining a farm system and bringing up stars through the organization. Not only does it save you money on cheaper contracts, but there’s so much more pride in home grown talent than there is in rental players.
Again, though, if you’re ever going to throw your farm system away for one guy, I don’t think you’ll come across a better option than Price.
So what will Ned Colletti do?
It’s all a mystery right now — and it might become more clear after this week’s GM meetings.
For me, I say spend all the money it takes to sign Tanaka and pass on Price unless the cost drops significantly.
This team is good enough to win it all without Price, but whatever they do, we’ll have a much clearer picture of how the front office plans on building this roster.
At the very least, things are about to get fun.
ICYMI: The Dodgers and Don Mattingly are talking extension.