The Rays are said to have talked to the Mariners about pitching prospect Taijuan Walkerplus two or three other top young players in talks involving pitcher David Price, league sources said.
Talks are ongoing and fluid, and deals being discussed could include just Price from Tampa Bay, Price plus Ben Zobrist or Zobrist alone.
It's all thought to be in the early stages, and Tampa's requests are not necessarily unreasonable for an ace such as Price, who is on a major hot streak and leads the AL in strikeouts and innings. Tampa hasn't yet definitively signaled that it would even trade Price yet, as it isn't that far off the pace in a surprisingly unimposing AL East.
The Mariners are loaded with top prospects, including D.J. Peterson, one of the best hitters in the minors, and left-handed pitcher James Paxton, who pitched a rehab start last night. Tampa is believed interested in those players as well.
The inclusion of Walker in talks is no surprise, as he was the key name this winter when those very same teams talked about Price. Eventually, the Mariners said no, as they were hesitant to part with Walker at the time, and Price's agent Bo McKinnis told Ken Rosenthal that Price preferred not to go so far as Seattle and wouldn't sign an extension with the Mariners.
Things may have changed for Seattle, which is now ensconced in the AL wild-card race. Scouts are expected at Walker's start Friday night for Triple-A Tacoma at Reno. He's pitched pretty well since returning from a spring shoulder concern and is considered a potential top-of-the-rotation starter.
The Rays are said to have had two scouts at their Double-A game Thursday against the Mariners' Double-A Jackson team, at Montgomery, Ala., though Tampa may have been scouting its own players, as well as Seattle's.
Seattle's other coveted prospects include shortstop Chris Taylor, pitchers Edwin Diaz, Luis Gohara and Victor Sanchez, outfielder/third baseman Pat Kivleham and catcher Tyler Marlette. The Mariners might be willing to include shoirtstop Brad Miller in a deal since Jackson has emerged as a huge prospect. Tampa has had a long-term interest in catching, but Seattle has said it will not trade its catcher Mike Zunino.
Jon Morosi of FOXSports.com first mentioned Price and Zobrist together as possibilities for Seattle.