The Tampa Bay Rays agreed to terms with their ace David Price on a one-year contract worth $10.1 million yesterday. The 2012 AL Cy Young winner and the cheapskate franchise avoid arbitration on the left-hander’s second arb-eligible season, working out a contract slightly above what many estimated he would receive.
The increasingly large pay cheques addressed to David Price means one thing and one thing only: his time in Tampa Bay is just about over.
The Rays front office is best known for their ability to sign team-controlled players to very team-friendly contract. Evan Longoria‘s case is a special and oft-cited example, with the recent extension of young Matt Moore reminding everyone that there is more than a little risk in these deals.
David Price does not appear willing to sign such a deal with the Rays, content to go the Lincecum route until he hits free agency at the end of the 2015 season. This stated desire to max out his earnings is not conducive to the Friedman Model of Shortstops and Discount Contract Baseball, Inc.
Trade rumors are going to swirl around David Price and the Rays from now until something happens. The Rays cannot afford to just let Price walk when he becomes a free agent. Every year they delay brings down the prospective haul of prospect riches Tampa Bay needs to survive.
A durable ace coming off a Cy Young winning season is going to fetch a pretty penny on the trade market – especially with pitching-poor but prospect-rich teams like Texas sniffing around, looking to bolster their rotation for another title run. The Cardinals have the talent in their system to make a deal for a player like Price but, then again, they probably don’t need to.
Price’s situation is further complicated by his Super Two status. The Rays, already described as a “cheapskate franchise” in the preceding paragraphs, could have gamed his service-time and manipulated his big league exposure to ensure their former first overall pick did not earn an extra year of arbitration among his six years of team control. But they did not.
Not even the Rays are immune to the lure of Flags Flying Forever. Tampa Bay called Price up late in the 2008 season as they neared the first post-season berth in franchise history. Though he began the 2009 season in Triple A, the Rays called Price up in late May as the team struggled to defend their AL East crown.
Tampa Bay’s front office surely has few regrets with their handling of David Price. They team reached the World Series in 2008 and added another AL East division crown in 2010. Trading him isn’t going to be an easy decision but the entire Rays business model is one built on difficult decisions. Just like with James Shields, the Rays cannot make gourmet omelettes on a cut-rate budget without breaking a few precious eggs.
And the rest
The Red Sox worked out Bobby Abreu…at first base? This non-signing is fun to mock but I bet he could piece together a deceNOPE. Abreu will always get on base but there is just no pop left in that bat. [NESN]
Baseball Think Factory reads and tracks all the self-righteous Hall of Fame columns so you don’t have to. My head hurts. [BBTF]
The Beyond the Box Score podcast looked back at 2012 and spoke with some of your favorite writers and podcasters. Also: me. [BTBS]
The Tao of Stieb talks ’92 World Series [ToS]