Only if the Price is right

But the big exception to that rule was a trade made by (guess who?) Friedman, precisely one year ago, when he got the next AL rookie of the year ( Wil Myers), and more, for starter James Shields.

So regardless of that history, regardless of modern baseball economics, how can this team wade into the Price waters and not come away with at least that much -- especially when you consider the mediocre state of the rest of the starting-pitching market?

Ask yourself this: Which starter would you rather have -- Price or Ubaldo Jimenez? Price or Matt Garza? Price or Ervin Santana? That's the gap between what the Rays are dangling here and what interested teams can buy for dollars alone this winter. Never forget that.

So as this week and this winter roll along, Friedman will do what he always does when it comes time to make a trade like this:

He will set the bar high. He will target what he wants. And he's not going to budge -- certainly not this week.

"Why would he?" asked one NL exec. "All he's got at stake is Price's health. The only downside to keeping him is if he gets hurt. And he's not going to get hurt in December. So he's got every reason to take his time."

Which makes winter meetings week an excellent time for all the teams in this chase to start their Christmas shopping. But will Price be a Mariner or a Ranger or a Dodger by week's end?

Based on the way other teams are talking? Unless, say, the Mariners get the same desperate look in their eyes they got when they signed Robinson Cano, we'd bet this will be the only opening episode in a drama that still could take weeks to unfold.

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