When the Tampa Bay Rays extended Evan Longoria through 2022 for an additional $100 million, essentially the trade clock on David Price started ticking a little louder. Longoria became the face of the franchise and the first player with an opportunity to join the Tampa Bay Ray for life club.
A similar decision on Price isn’t likely. Trading one of the club’s most valuable assets is a forgone conclusion in most baseball circles, but it does not have to be now.
Rays Index projects the Tampa Bay payroll for 2014 to be $62.7 million with Price knocking down a little over $13 million of that total. That’s before completing the yearly task of rebuilding the bullpen and adding a few position players.
The problem is Tampa Bay likes to keep the top earners in its organzaiton nearer the $8 million mark and keeping Price would mean being financial flexible to a level the team historically has been uncomfortable with.
The team recently cut ties with Jeff Niemann, and keeping Price is more financially palatable if Matt Joyce or Jeremy Hellickson could be moved, perhaps both. It is not as east as it sounds, but it is an option.
Do the Rays like their chances of winning without Price? Certainly they like their chances better with him and the wrong decision could affect a franchise like Tampa Bay for years. It is not a easy decision.
Tampa Bay is no stranger to trading pitching assets. Matt Garza was dealt for prospects including Chris Archer, a ROY finalist, and Price’s good freind James Shields was traded to Kansas City in a deal that brought 2013 Rookie of the Year Wil Myers into the fold.
Price is under team control, a valuable commodity, for another two seasons. As much as the pressure appears to be on Rays GM Andrew Freidman to get a deal done, he has options. The best one might be keeping Price through the 2014 season or at least up until the trade deadline.
The Rays will trade Price if Freidman gets an acceptable offer.
The Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Dodgers are the teams most often mentioned when it comes to having the resources to make a deal happen. Rangers GM Jon Daniels is not afraid to pull the trigger on a blockbuster deal, and the Dodgers have shown they are up for just about anything.
Unless either team is willing to send back a load of top tier prospects and perhaps a major league position player, Freidman will be content to enter the 2014 season with Price anchoring the Rays rotation, and that is not a bad thing.