When David Price broke in with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008, he burst onto the scene much like Francisco Rodriguez in 2002. Price made five September appearances and then became a huge help for the Rays in their first postseason appearance.
Giancarlo Stanton made his debut at 20 years old for the then-Florida Marlins back in 2010, quickly gaining favor with his incredible power.
Now, Price is a Cy Young Award winner and Stanton is one of the most feared right-handed sluggers in the game.
Which one would be of more value in a trade?
On Wednesday, Buster Olney of ESPN attempted to address that issue:
They are both impact players but very different in the attributes they present. Price is among the best pitchers on the planet and would transform any rotation, any pitching staff. Stanton might be the most powerful hitter, and if placed in the middle of the right lineup, he could do for a team what Frank Robinson, Reggie Jackson and other great sluggers did.
The fact either of them are being mentioned in trade speculation is an indictment of the state of Florida-based teams, but that's a subject for another day.
As it stands right now, both players are under team control—Price agreed to a $10.1 million deal for this season and is arbitration eligible for two more years. Stanton is making $537K this year and won't be eligible for arbitration until next year.
The Marlins may be giving that impression. But then again, owner Jeffrey Loria told Jose Reyes to buy a house in Miami before he abruptly traded him. It's safe to say anything coming from Marlins camp may not be completely trustworthy.
In a tweet last Sunday, Olney said the Texas Rangers were at the very least in the preliminary stages of preparing an offer for Stanton.
In Wednesday's piece, Olney suggested that the top four teams that could be in play for Stanton's services are the Rangers, St. Louis Cardinals, Seattle Mariners and Detroit Tigers.
Bleacher Report lead writer Jason Martinez took his own stab at putting together a deal between the Rangers and Marlins.
Martinez includes four of the Rangers' top-20 prospects (according to MLB.com) as the price it would take for the Rangers to pry Stanton away from Miami.
Another reporter suggested every single team in baseball would be more than interested in acquiring Stanton.
That's likely true, but just like I'm interested in acquiring beachfront property, it doesn't mean it's actually feasible.
For his part, Price is eventually looking to get paid. He has no desire to offer Tampa Bay any kind of a hometown discount.
That's not to say he doesn't appreciate being in Tampa Bay, but he told Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com back in February that he wants that appreciation returned in kind:
I don’t play this game for the money, but I don’t want to be underappreciated. What I’ve done for this organization so far, I feel like I’ve helped this organization a great deal. So if they want to show me some appreciation, then fine. They know I would love to be here. They know that. Everybody here knows that. If we can make that happen then we will. If not, then I’ll do it the other way.
Olney also speculated on Wednesday that Price's biggest suitors might be the Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Rangers and Cardinals.
Both the Rangers and Cardinals are apparently going to be spending big money and losing a significant chunk of their farm system, if Olney's hunches come to fruition.
In winning the American League Cy Young Award last season, Price's value both in terms of free agency and the trade market obviously shot through the roof. Tampa Bay has already committed $100 million to third baseman Evan Longoria for the next several years. They'll also have decisions to make in the future regarding Ben Zobrist, Wil Myers and others.
With their attendance—or lack thereof—and limited resources, it would seem an impossibility that Price's future is in Tampa Bay.
Who Wins the Price War, So to Speak?
It's not often in baseball that talent of the caliber of both Price and Stanton would seemingly be available. However, as mentioned above, Florida-based teams simply can't, or won't, compete at the level of many other teams in terms of retaining its stars.
Rays vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman is without question one of the shrewdest operators in baseball. He has developed his farm system in a way that is envied throughout the majors.
The Rays have continually churned out stars from its system—particularly young and vibrant arms—that have helped keep them competitive for the past five seasons. Friedman has also been a genius at pulling players from the scrapheap for bargain basement prices and watching as they've made significant contributions.
Anyone who suspected Fernando Rodney would save 45 games last year is either lying or trying to brag. Yet Friedman offered him $1.25 million and made that investment look like a genius move.
That is the state of affairs in Tampa—spend a little and hope they get back a lot. While that way of thinking has worked with several players, it doesn't do anything to keep Price in town for the long haul.
Price will absolutely fetch a nice return—he's only 27 years old and in the prime of his career. But he's also four years older than Stanton and already considerably more expensive. The pool of teams who would have the resources to trade for Price is no doubt smaller than for Stanton.
Both Stanton and Price are off to slow starts this season. Stanton hasn't driven in a run through nine games and has been hobbled by a sore shoulder for the better part of a week.
Price too has struggled, posting a 5.82 ERA in his first three starts. However, their early season performance won't have any bearing on how the market looks at them right now. Both are highly desired, and both are game-changers.
In the end, though, Stanton will be the one that fetches a bigger return. My colleague Jason Martinez suggested it would cost the Rangers four top prospects—Jurickson Profar, Mike Olt, Lewis Brinson and Ronald Guzman—and I don't think he's far off in that thinking whatsoever.
Price will be pricey as well—teams will have to carefully consider losing at least two of their top-10 prospects in order to even be considered by Tampa Bay.
But with his current salary, the pool of teams is smaller. Not to mention the fact I am always going to believe that an outstanding hurler is just one pitch away from a significant injury, and therefore much more of a risk.
Stanton hits the ball in a way only few have ever matched—he'll also return a package in any deal that may not be matched by any other player as well.
Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.