The Miami Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays face off in a four-game home-and-home set in which the teams will move to Miami from Tampa on Wednesday. The Fish will avoid facing David Price in this four-game series, as Price is recovering from a triceps injury, while the Rays will avoid facing Giancarlo Stanton thanks to his recovery from his hamstring injury. Both players, however, are still prominent parts of their respective teams and may be the most interesting parts of this meeting despite their absence.
Both Stanton and Price have been the subject of multiple trade rumors this season, as both may not be long for this team. We have covered Stanton's trade rumors extensively here, but Price too has garnered plenty of interest. The Texas Rangers have interest in Price, much like they do with Stanton. The two players have some similarities in why teams are interested in them, but ultimately one will be dealt sooner rather than later, while the other will remain on one of the Florida teams for a little while longer. What are the similarities and differences in Stanton's and Price's trade values?
If you are looking for performance, it is hard to argue that there is a whole lot of difference. Stanton is younger and has a two-year history of fantastic work, but Price has a three-year history of excellent pitching and has a Cy Young award to his name. Both players fill an elite niche in baseball. Stanton is the ever-popular Slugger archetype, and as we all know, chicks dig the long ball. Price is the Ace archetype, complete with a blazing fastball, an award, and a bravado when pitching that makes him intimidating on the mound.
Both players, based on skill level and performance alone, are more than attractive trade options. It would be difficult to rate one over the other just based on this factor. Price averaged 4.6 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) per season when you average Baseball-Reference's and FanGraphs' numbers. Stanton averaged 3.9 WAR per year, and that was with a half-season in his rookie year included. Both players are at worst All-Stars and at best franchise players.
Both players find themselves on the disabled list this season, and for extended time periods to boot. Price's triceps strain could keep him out for some time, and that has definitely hurt his trade value. The Rays had to be planning on moving Price at some point either this season or during this offseason, but with him missing significant playing time this year, it would be more difficult for the Rays to get full value from him. If Price does not return to actual form after the injury, this would make the prospects of a deal even worse.
Stanton is going through a similar problem. Like Price, he struggled before getting injured this season, and it seems likely that the injury stamped out any minor possibility that he would be traded by the July trade deadline. The Marlins need Stanton to return and put up significant numbers for the team to succeed, but they also want him to show that he has not lost anything so that the team can have an easier time finding the right trade package for his eventual departure. If he does not return to actual form, it will make life difficult for the Fish.
Both players are in such similar situations that they are often named in trade rumors in the same breath. The one reason why they shouldn't be put in the same category is their contract. David Price is entering his third year of arbitration, but he was Super Two eligible. That means that any team acquiring him would have two more seasons of team control left. But do not consider that to be some sort of bargain for the acquiring team. Thanks to Price's Cy Young campaign, he earned himself a $10.1 million salary this season. That means that, even with modest payouts thanks to time missed, you can likely at least expect him to earn $13 million next year and $17 million the year after, putting him essentially on a two-year, $30 million contract.
Compare that to Stanton, who is in his final pre-arbitration season and has three seasons of control left. Any team acquiring Stanton should look at least at a $5 million award next year, followed by perhaps $9 million in 2015 and $13 million in 2016. That would total up to a three-year, $27 million commitment to Stanton.
The choice then is fairly simple. Would you rather pay David Price $30 million over two years or Giancarlo Stanton $27 million over three years? The likelihood that Stanton will come significantly cheaper to an acquiring team is what separates his trade value from Price's despite their similar caliber. If both players are equally talented, teams should be expected to pay more for the cheaper one, and that price should be reflected in what prospects the Marlins receive.
But right now, the rumors have the two players at similar prospect prices, and that reflects the difficulty in trading Stanton now. The problem, once again, is that no team is willing to bet the farm on Stanton, but that is what he should demand right now. As he approaches a time similar to that of Price's, the cost of prospects currently being put up will begin to be more reasonable, and that is when the Marlins should consider pulling the trigger.