The Texas Rangers have started preparing for a possible blockbuster deal in the months ahead, asking questions and laying groundwork, rival evaluators say, but presumably, Texas is not alone. Some executives within the industry expect that sometime on the horizon, two of the game's best young stars will be made available in the trade market -- the Rays' David Price and the Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton.
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 question that the officials of some clubs will have to ask is: Which guy would you rather pursue, Price or Stanton?
Not every team will have that option, in all likelihood. As much as the Angels would love to have someone like Price for their pitching staff, their farm system is depleted. Similarly, the Brewers don't have lot of assets to trade. The Yankees have good prospects in the lower levels of the minor leagues but don't have a lot at the top, and in any event, making a deal for Price with a division rival could be problematic.
But the Rangers have the caliber of prospects needed to trade for Price or Stanton, and the same certainly could be said for the Cardinals, Cubs, Mariners, Red Sox, Diamondbacks, Padres, Mets and others.
To review: Rival officials expect the Rays to deal Price sometime by the end of the year because his skyrocketing salary, driven by his success and by arbitration, will make him too expensive for Tampa Bay to keep. Price is making $10.11 million this year and will be eligible for arbitration twice more before becoming eligible for free agency after the 2015 season.