However, as Hernandez notes, the Dodgers are merely making their presence known to the Rays should they make the 2012 American League Cy Young Award winner available this offseason.
In an all-encompassing interview with Andrew Astleford of FOXSportsFlorida.com last week, Rays vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman addressed the question of Price possibly being dealt.
"Obviously, we don't comment about specific players," Friedman said. "But I think the most over-arching comment that I always make when asked about specific players is, simply said, our goal is to be as good as we can be in 2014 and be as well-positioned as possible to sustain that success into the future."
The Dodgers are prepared to open the 2014 season with a top-tier starting rotation of Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu. So while trading for Price this offseason isn’t necessary, the acquisition would give the team the best rotation in baseball without question.
It’s a foregone conclusion that Los Angeles would have to part with its top prospects in a deal for Price. However, Hernandez argues that blowing up the farm system isn’t part of the organization’s offseason agenda:
A trade for Price is probably a long shot for the Dodgers, who are short on top-tier prospects they could offer in exchange for Price. The two players in their system who might have the highest ceilings are teenagers: infielder Corey Seager, 19, and left-hander Julio Urias, 17.
Furthermore, trading their top prospects would go against the organization’s frequently stated ambition of rebuilding a farm system that was depleted under former owner Frank McCourt.
Besides wanting the best of both worlds in competing at the major league level and stocking talent in the minor leagues, the Dodgers simply might not be able to offer as loaded of a prospect package as other interested teams, such as the Seattle Mariners, whom I looked at on Friday.
However, if they were to put together a prospect package for the Rays ace, here is whom they might include:
Julio Urias, LHP
Signed out of the Mexican leagues in August of 2012, Julio Urias has the highest ceiling of any pitcher in the Dodgers system. He also has one of the higher ceilings among all pitchers in the low minor leagues.
For his stateside debut this past season, the Dodgers sent the then-16-year-old directly to Low-A Great Lakes, making him the youngest player to see time at a full-season level.
Think about it this way: If he wasn’t pitching professionally, Urias would have been completing his sophomore year of high school.
Suffice it to say Urias exceeded the organization’s wildest expectations.
Making 18 starts on the year, the left-hander posted a 2.48 ERA, .227 opponents’ batting average and stellar 67-16 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 54.1 innings.
Due to the combination of his age and the Dodgers’ desire to limit his workload, a majority of Urias’ outings this season were just one or two innings. However, he did record a few three- and four-inning starts toward the end of the regular season.
At 5’11", 160 pounds, Urias already has a projectable frame and is literally still growing. In general, he possesses a special combination of outstanding stuff and pitchability at a young age. The southpaw employs a smooth, repeatable delivery with easy arm action, and he consistently uses his lower half.
Urias’ fastball sits in the low 90s and, remarkably, he’s been known to bump 94-95 miles per hour. In terms of secondary offerings, he features a curveball with plus potential, and he already demonstrates the confidence to throw it in any count. He also has an impressive present feel for a changeup, showing the ability to turn it over to create late fading action to the arm side.
Overall, Urias has ridiculously bright future with true front-of-the-rotation upside. The Dodgers are likely to exercise caution with his workload moving forward, but there’s a realistic chance that the left-hander reaches the major leagues before his 20th birthday.
Joc Pederson, OF
After posting a .913 OPS with 18 home runs and 26 stolen bases for High-A Rancho Cucamonga in 2012, Joc Pederson improved his prospect stock in a big way this past season with a strong follow-up showing at Double-A Chattanooga.
Previously viewed as a potential fourth outfielder, Pederson’s performance this season in the Southern League makes me believe he can be an everyday guy in the major leagues, possibly as early as late 2014.
Heading into the season, there was concern that the outfielder’s production wouldn’t translate outside the hitter-friendly California League.
Suffice it to say the 21-year-old silenced his skeptics by ranking third in both OPS (.878) and stolen bases (31) among all qualified hitters in the Southern League.
A left-handed hitter, Pederson has the potential for an above-average to plus hit tool, and he already knows how to control the strike zone and get the barrel to the ball. The fact that his power has translated at Double-A was a pleasant surprise and suggests the potential for above-average power at maturity.
However, Pederson receiving consistent playing time in the major leagues next season would most likely be the result of an injury to one of the Dodgers’ everyday outfielders. But even if that’s not the case, he could still wind up getting a look in a reserve role.
Yimi Garcia, RHP
Yimi Garcia was dominant in his full-season debut in 2012, registering 16 saves and striking out 82 batters in 52.1 innings between Low-A Great Lakes and High-A Rancho Cucamonga. He’s not overpowering, but the 23-year-old right-hander’s funky arm action makes him highly deceptive and an uncomfortable at-bat for opposing hitters.
Moved up to Double-A Chattanooga for the 2013 season, Garcia continued to surpass expectations by improving his command to the tune of an 85/14 K/BB ratio in 60.1 innings. The right-hander was especially effective against same-side hitters with a 1.86 ERA and 53/8 K/BB ratio in 38.2 innings.
If there’s a concern with Garcia, it’s that he yielded nine home runs this season in 60.1 innings after allowing none in 2012.
Additionally, he doesn't seem to have the stuff to close games in the majors with a 90-91 mph fastball and slow, sweeping slider that registers in the low 80s.
Still, there’s something to be said for his ability to consistently miss bats over the last two years. Garcia should reach the major leagues during the 2014 season, likely in the role of a sixth- or seventh-inning reliever.
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