A lot of the major media outlets have ignored the Royals when listing the prospective suitors for David Price. Actually, they have done so to a comical degree, with some including the Angels and Yankees instead. Neither one of those two clubs has the minor league assets to be taken seriously in the chase for Price.
The Royals do. However, the question that should be asked before thinking too much about bringing another Rays ace to Kansas city is: Do they even need him?
Every team would be better with David Price. Yes, that's probably true, but that only applies to this season. Right now. In the long run, would adding Price this season -- and next year, unless they attempted to flip him in the offseason -- be worth the loss of some of the team's top prospects?
That's a tough question to answer. And it should be noted that the Royals would be far from uncontested in their efforts if they did pursue Price. The Dodgers, Cardinals, and Mariners could put together some compelling packages as well, among others.
Not to mention the fact that the Royals current starting five has been pretty good. James Shields has the worst ERA in the rotation at 3.93, and he still has a better FIP than Jason Vargas and Jeremy Guthrie, but not by much. And in a way, that's a good thing. It'd be great if he was pitching like an authentic Number One, but the Royals rotation has absolutely been a positive as a unit. They have the fifth-best ERA in the American League and the second-lowest walk rate. Shields will probably bounce back, and even if he doesn't, he's not going to miss a start based on performance.
The bullpen has been sturdy too -- despite ranking sixth in the AL in team ERA, they rank third in fWAR at 3.2. The one thing they do lack, however, is a consistent left hander out of the bullpen. A few of the late-inning regulars -- most notably Wade Davis and Greg Holland -- have good splits against lefties, but it might be useful to have a lefty specialist as a bridge to their exceptional set up/closer combo. Francisley Bueno could be that guy, but he's thrown fewer than 10 innings this season, and he struggled to some extent last night. Danny Duffy would certainly be a better option, and he could jump back into the rotation in the event of an injury.
Of course, the Royals could just trade for a guy like Joe Thatcher, keep Duffy in the rotation, and hang on to all of their significant prospects. Price would likely cost the Royals Raul Mondesi, Kyle Zimmer -- or both -- and a handful of other potentially useful minor leaguers. Eventually, one of the Royals starters is going to regress to their career mean, maybe a few will. Shields is likely to regress to his career averages -- which would be an improvement -- and Vargas, Guthrie and Duffy aren't likely to continue having career years simultaneously.
Having David Price -- who is having a banner year of his own if you go by his career-best FIP and xFIP -- would give the Royals a one-two punch at the front of the rotation that could hang with most teams in the AL. With Yordano Ventura, Vargas, Guthrie, and Duffy behind Price and Shields, the Royals would have a deep rotation not drastically unlike the Red Sox had last year -- maybe even better. Those pitchers would have an excellent defense behind them, especially if Jarrod Dyson continues to see playing time when Norichika Aoki returns from the disabled list.
The ideal acquisition would seem to be a slugging corner infielder, but since there aren't many of those available, and there definitely aren't any as potentially impactful as Price -- unless you count the nearly-unacquirable Adrian Beltre -- perhaps adding the best player they can would be the best strategy for the Royals to take.
The loss of minor league talent could be mitigated by flipping Price in the offseason to a team that has a chance of extending him.
The turnaround on a rental-flip scenario -- as David Cameron posited -- wouldn't be a wash, but the collateral damage might be worth it. Adding a Cy Young winner to the Royals seemingly endless hunt for the postseason could cost them Zimmer, Mondesi, and maybe two lesser prospects -- assuming Tampa Bay laughed when the negotiations began with Hosmer and Moustakas for Price, they weren't interested in Shields-Price straight up, and Ventura/Duffy were off the table. The Royals could conceivably flip Price this winter for a similar, albeit less spectacular, package from the Dodgers, Cardinals, etc.
It might not be the ideal trade, but it just seems strange that the Royals aren't widely considered a contender for Price since they have the prospects and the need. It probably won't happen, and maybe it shouldn't, but it's worth considering.