Is there any player in baseball who fits the definition of "human trade rumor" better than David Price? The Rays' ace is highly unlikely to get traded during the meetings. But he's 100 percent likely to be talked about every minute of every day during the meetings.
Clubs that have checked in say the Rays' executive vice president of baseball operations, Andrew Friedman, has been exceptionally deliberate in his handling of the Price talks so far, getting a handle on who's interested but not getting into a whole lot of dialogue beyond that.
That figures to change dramatically next week, though. Last winter, when Friedman was in a similar spot with James Shields, his deal with the Royals crystallized rapidly at the meetings. But other clubs expect the Price deal to materialize more slowly.
For one thing, he's David Price. And in this market, there's a humongous gap between him and every other starting pitcher a team can sign or trade for. So there is no reason for Friedman to move quickly unless he gets exactly what he wants.
For another, there are, undoubtedly, teams that would be more interested in blowing up their system to make this deal if they could get Price signed beyond 2015. But none of them knows whether they'll get that chance before finishing off this trade. All they know for sure is that the Rays haven't opened any negotiating windows in the past, before the trades of Shields and Matt Garza.
So there will be a long list of teams that have some level of interest -- with the Dodgers, Rangers, Mariners, Angels, Braves, Diamondbacks and Padres appearing to rank high on that list. On the other hand, the group of teams that can actually step up and make this deal, given the asking price and contract issues, might turn out to be much smaller.
It's still unclear exactly what it's going to take for one of those clubs to make this happen. But here's a pithy assessment from one interested party: "Andrew," he said, "is looking to make the Herschel Walker trade."
Thirty teams will descend on the land of Mickey and Minnie next week. But who will be the busiest? Survey said …
• Yankees 7 votes
• Mariners 4
• Rangers 2
• Red Sox 2
• Angels, Cubs 1 apiece
The Mariners? Yep, they've got some money they need to toss around. … The Rangers and Red Sox? Yep, they've got big plans and lots of balls in the air. … But was there any doubt the winner of this competition was going to be the Bronx Bombardiers? Sheesh, you were expecting maybe the Monterrey Sultans?
As those Yankees dollars were flying this week, one GM put it eloquently.
"The big boys," he said, "are back."