The Angels long have known they do not have the elite prospects necessary to acquire Price from the Tampa Bay Rays. That would require the Angels to trade players from their major league roster, and General Manager Jerry Dipoto said Wednesday he has no intention of doing that in any deal.
“We’re not looking to move pieces from our major league club,” Dipoto said.
Dipoto said he would like to add a pitcher to the back of the rotation and the back of the bullpen, likely a closer or another left-handed reliever. He declined to discuss Price or any other pitcher who might be available.
“We’re open to the idea of getting deeper on the pitching side,” Dipoto said. “We’ll see how that plays out. But our team is gelling, and we don’t want to detract from that.”
Although speculation has focused on San Diego Padres closer Huston Street, the Angels also are interested in two other Padres pitchers: setup man Joaquin Benoit and starter Ian Kennedy. The Angels are less interested in Philadelphia Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon and Texas Rangers closer Joakim Soria.
In addition to the lack of available minor league talent to attract the Rays, another factor would hamper the Angels’ pursuit of Price. Angels owner Arte Moreno would prefer not to pay baseball’s luxury tax, and the average annual value of a player’s contract is used to determined whether a team is liable for the tax each year.
Mike Trout’s salary rises from $1 million to $5 million next year, but the average annual value of his contract rises from $1 million to $24 million. With the addition of perhaps $20 million for Price, the Angels would find it difficult to avoid paying the luxury tax.
The Rays have not committed to trade Price by the July 31 deadline. They are 9 1/2 games behind the Baltimore Orioles in the American League East, but the Orioles have 13 games before the deadline -- all against the AL West powers Oakland, Seattle and the Angels.
If the Orioles stumble and the Rays pick up a few games in the next week, Tampa Bay might well decide to play to win this summer and trade Price this winter.