Heading into the offseason, David Price was about as good of a bet as anyone to be traded this winter. Yet, here we are at the end of January and David Price is still a Tampa Bay Ray. Part of this might be attributed to the Rays still being in a playoff contention window, but more likely, it's the price that's associated with Price. It's been well documented the Rays hope to receive a similar haul, if not more so, to the deal last winter that sent James Shields to the Kansas City Royals. That was considered ludicrous deal then, and despite Price being as accomplished as than Shields while also being younger, it doesn't justify such a deal now.
However, teams looking to upgrade their rotation might have overlooked and forgotten an alternative: Jaime Garcia. Price and Garcia's peripherals over the past four years:
Price has the edge in most categories, but it's not by much, and overall, they have similar outcomes. Garcia doesn't have the same upside as Price and has his fair share of risk, given his shoulder issues. However, 2014 might be the season where he finally rids himself of the injury bug, given early reports on his current health. If so, Garcia could present himself as a bargain for a team.
Garcia is a year younger than Price and is signed to a team friendly deal, being owed 17 million dollars over the next two years, $7.75 million in 2014 and $9.25 million in 2015. In addition, the deal includes club options of 11.5 and 12 million dollars in 2016 and 2017 with buyouts of half a million dollars for each, potentially totaling to 40.5 million dollars over the next four years. To live up to that contract Garcia, would only need to produce between 5-8 fWAR, depending on which valuation you prefer to use. If healthy, Garcia should at least be worth around 2.5-3 wins per year, leaving plenty of room for surplus value.
Price, on the other hand, is set to earn $14 million in 2014 alone, with one year of arbitration left. Barring injury, he'll command at least $14 million in 2015, hitting free agency a year later. At age 30, he'll easily be able to land a nine figure, multi-year deal on the open market. Let's also not forget the amount of talent it would take to acquire him; to say the least, the cost of obtaining and holding onto Price is steep.
Consequently, Garcia could prove to be a gamble worth taking. It's no secret the Cardinals have a surplus of starting pitching talent, furthering the availability of Garcia. This is not to say Garcia can be had for pennies, but compared to Price, he'll surely cost just a fraction of what Price would.
If you're a team in the market for starting pitching, Jaimie Garcia just makes a lot sense. He's a year younger, a fraction of the cost to obtain, and a fraction of the cost to hang onto as opposed to David Price. Make no mistake, Jaime Garcia is no David Price, but he's not a bad substitute if teams can keep him healthy. Given these circumstances, if I were a General Manager looking to upgrade my rotation, Cardinals GM John Mozeliak would be one of my first calls to make.
Anthony Joshi-Pawlowic is a contributing writer at Beyond the Box Score. You can follow him on Twitter at @AJP13237.