MLB.com Columnist

Richard Justice

Top 5 trade destinations for Price

Top 5 trade destinations for Price

David Price makes every single contender better. There's some risk, because he's a pending free agent, and that's the only one.

On the other hand, what's a World Series worth to a franchise? Any general manager would happily weaken his farm system in exchange for a championship.

That's absolutely the only downside of acquiring Price. At the moment, the Tigers seem uncertain about dealing him. But they're listening before the non-waiver Trade Deadline at 4 p.m. ET on Friday.

Let's say the Dodgers, Yankees or Giants landed Price -- he might be the final piece to a championship puzzle.

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The "Price" would not be cheap. If the team that acquires Price doesn't get to the World Series and then loses him to free agency after the season, there'll be some grumbling.

But the positives of such a deal -- upgrading the team, energizing the clubhouse and fan base -- are huge.

And then there are the teams fighting just to make the playoffs: the Cubs, Blue Jays, Rangers, etc.

Price might get them over the top. Again, there's some risk. Pennant races aren't for the timid.

Trust us when we tell you that A's general manager Billy Beane has zero regrets about sliding all his cards on the table last summer and acquiring Jon Lester, Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. His team lost the American League Wild Card Game to the Royals, but no GM did a better job of positioning his club to win.

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At 29 years old, Price is a difference-maker. Since the beginning of the 2013 season, he's second in the Majors in innings, sixth in strikeouts, 12th in WHIP, 11th in FIP and tied for 20th in ERA. Only nine pitchers have more quality starts, and only seven have a higher Wins Above Replacement, according to fangraphs.com.

This season is more of the same. Price is 12th in the Majors in ERA (2.53), fourth in innings (146), sixth in quality starts (15) and eighth in WAR (3.6).

But teams have to be in a certain place to acquire Price. They have to be able to project themselves as a pennant winner with him on the roster.

OK, here goes:

1. Giants
Do the Giants have enough prospects to acquire him? That's really the only question. Executive vice president of baseball operations Brian Sabean isn't afraid to take a chance if it puts his team in better position to win a championship. Besides that, his team might already be good enough. Madison Bumgarner showed last season that a team can win a championship with one great pitcher on an extraordinary run. Price would add a bona fide ace to pitch behind Bumgarner in the postseason. Perhaps just as important, if Price is pitching for the Giants, he's not pitching for the Dodgers. Also, San Francisco has the resources to sign Price to a long-term deal. In terms of a one-and-done risk, deep pockets lessen the risk a bit.

2. Cubs
They're fighting to get into the playoffs, and so Price might serve two purposes. He would position the Cubs to grab one of the National League Wild Card spots, and he also give them a serious October rotation with Jake Arrieta, Lester and Price. Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein has taken a long view of building a great team until now. But his team has taken a huge leap forward this summer, and Epstein might see this season as an opportunity he can't pass up. Like the Giants, the Cubs have the money to make a run at keeping Price.

3. Dodgers
How does the sound of Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Price sound for a postseason series? That rotation would rank among the best ever. The Dodgers have the prospects to make a deal happen, and in free agency, they've shown they've got the money to spend and are willing to spend it. But would president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman give up star shortstop Corey Seager, who is MLB.com's No. 2-ranked prospect, to get Price? Friedman has said he will not trade his future cornerstone players, but if Price is on the market, he's as much a generational type player as Seager.

4. Yankees
General manager Brian Cashman isn't in a buying mood. His team has a seven-game lead and two young starters -- Bryan Mitchell and Luis Severino, who is the team's No. 1 prospect -- waiting in the wings. Cashman has methodically held onto his prized young players in building a different kind of franchise. But if Price is available, he's such an upgrade over what the Yankees have that almost everyone in baseball expects New York to be aggressive. There's little question they're headed back to the postseason, but with the Yanks, just making it has never been enough.

5. Astros
This is the wild-card team. The Astros have the prospects to do such a deal. They're in a good place to make the playoffs. But unlike the other four teams on this list, they would appear to be a long shot to be able to sign Price to a long-term commitment. But after a decade out of the playoffs and with one of baseball's deepest farm systems, Houston is going to be tempted to put Price in a rotation that already has Scott Kazmir and Dallas Keuchel. With those three, the Astros would be a formidable October opponent.

Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.