Negotiations went down to the wire, and it took two other teams to get a deal done, but the Rays found an agreeable package of young players for which to trade ace David Price. Tampa Bay sends the lefthander to the Tigers, who send major league southpaw Drew Smyly and low Class A shortstop Willy Adames to the Rays.
Drew Smyly, lhp
The man who replaced Doug Fister in the Tigers rotation now takes Price’s place in Tampa Bay. Smyly relies on a two-seamer (90 mph), a cutter (85) and a slider (78), pounding the strike zone and generating an above-average rate of strikeouts. (Velocities courtesy of Pitch f/x data at FanGraphs.) More than his raw stuff, Smyly is attractive to the Rays because he has ample big league experience (276 innings) but four years of team control remaining. He won’t be arbitration-eligible until after 2015.
Nick Franklin, 2b/ss
Age: 23 Bats: B
Franklin exhausted his rookie eligibility during an extended callup to Seattle in 2013, but he has yet to establish himself in the majors, batting .214 with an excessive strikeout rate but solid power in 119 total games. In parts of three seasons at Triple-A Tacoma, Franklin has hit .281/.372/.443 with a .162 isolated slugging percentage and strikeout rate of 18 percent. Scouts who like him see a future average hitter (from the left side anyway) capable of spraying the ball around the field or pulling it for power when in advantage counts. He fits best at second base with good hands and range, but plus arm strength makes him at least playable at shortstop too.
Willy Adames, ss
Age: 18 Bats: R
Signed by the Tigers for $420,000 out of the Dominican in 2012, Adames has exciting tools and athleticism, which are both evident with his performance as an 18-year-old at low Class A this season. Scouts don’t question his ability to stick at shortstop as he advances, and he shows present plus range and arm strength. Adames already drives the ball for gap power and takes his share of walks, though he’ll need to tone down his strikeouts. Regardless, he has the highest ceiling among the players the Rays acquired, though he’s also the farthest away.
Austin Jackson, cf
Age: 27 Bats: R
Jackson has followed a breakthrough 2012 season with a couple league-average ones at the plate, but he’s still miles better than Seattle’s current outfield rotation of Dustin Ackley, Endy Chavez, Chris Denorfia, Corey Hart and James Jones. A steady defensive center fielder, Jackson once appeared to be a future 20/20 player—he has four homers and nine steals this year—so maybe a change of scenery will reinvigorate him. He will qualify for free agency after the 2015 season and is eligible for arbitration for the final time this offseason.
David Price, lhp
The Tigers add the AL leader in strikeouts and innings to a pitching staff whose 3.82 rotation ERA ranked just fifth in the league at the time of the trade, despite having Anibal Sanchez, Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and a resurgent Rick Porcello. Price doesn’t throw quite as hard as he did a couple years ago—he still averages 93 mph, though—but he throws with greater precision and mixes in a cutter and changeup much more frequently. He has struck a perfect balance this season with a ridiculous 8.2 SO/BB ratio, thanks to 10 strikeouts per nine innings and a miniscule walk rate. Price is arbitration-eligible for the final time this offseason, coming off a year in which he earned $14 million.
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