Should the Indians look to deal Carlos Santana to Tampa Bay for star pitcher David Price?
"The following is speculation on my part: The Indians' package could center on Carlos Santana, who brings the power/patience combination the Rays would love and is under club control through 2017 on a team-friendly contract."
As Jason has pointed out on these here pages, the Indians have a solid four-man rotation at the moment, and David Price would be an awfully nice answer to an awfully big question mark on this roster. He would immediately become the team's best pitcher since Cliff Lee's departure. But at the price of Santana, the team's best bat?
Over the last three years, Carlos Santana has produced WARs (according to FanGraphs) of 3.3, 3.3, and 3.6. Price has posted 4.3, 4.8, and 4.4. Looking forward, both the Oliver and Steamer projections on the FanGraphs player pages see Santana spiking up to about 5 in 2014, while Oliver shows him dropping to 4.5 over the next four seasons. Meanwhile Steamer is bearish on Price, pegging him at 3.8 WAR, while Oliver suggests Price will stayaround the mid-4's for the next few years.
I think Oliver and Steamer are likely overly optimistic on Santana, but even if I stick closer to the 3.1 WAR projected by ZIPS, it is reasonable to think he'll produce between 10 and 16 WAR over the next four years, while costing his team $30 million. That is a huge bargain.
Price is likely good for 8-10 WAR over the next two years (after which he reaches free agency). MLB Trade Rumors projects Price's salary in 2014 to be $13.1 million. Assuming he keeps producing like he has, that will increase to something near $20 million for 2015. At those figures, Price is a good value...but not as good as Santana.
Of course, Santana's value decreases if he moves away from behind the plate, and the emergence of Yan Gomes has basically guaranteed that, if he stays in Cleveland. But at the end of the day, you are talking about trading four years of Santana for two years of Price, spending basically the same amount of money in the process (compressed over just two years and therefore boosting payroll in 2014 and 2015), likely only adding 2-4 wins over the course of those two years, and having nothing to show for it come 2016.
Morosi suggests the Indians could build a package around Santana for Price, but I can't see trading Santana for Price straight up.