First Sign Price Might Not Want to be a “Rays Lifer”

 David Price

What a great and grand New Years day present to hear the Tampa Bay Rays and their ace, David Price have come to an agreement for his 2013 salary. Sure a 1-year, $10.1 million dollar payday for the upcoming 2013 season is nothing to sneeze at (or if you are Astro..snort at), but the reality is so many of us had hoped the recent decision of Evan Longoria to basically announce he wants to be a “Ray for Life” might rub off a bit on his condo-sharing neighbor Price. Realistically you had hoped the Rays would have pushed harder for at least a 2-year deal to hedge their own “fiscal cliff” and keeping Price at least in a Rays jersey until late July 2014.

David PriceBut the blatant fact here is Price knows his stock will soar yearly as he meanders towards his Free Agency years, that if he stays consistent and produces number that are in the higher echelon of the MLB hurlers, the dollar signs and length of contract will increase tremendously. That by itself would surely dictate a 1-year deal for 2013.

I think I’m not the only one hoping somewhere within the Rays 4th floor there is someone trying to not only persuade Price and his agent to think long-term, but that the new Rays pitching leadership figure might want to stay with the thoughts of teaming along side Longo for at least the next 5 seasons possibly pushing the Rays past their present post season darkness. You want to think someone who has not only embraced the region, but its fan base with such smiles and up-lifting comments would make a visual or fiscal move to show confidence in the system and the Rays composition.

Price1Maybe I’m a bit naive in thinking Price would make a gesture towards this community showing his want and eagerness to stay beyond his proposed 2015 payday. Possibly my sugarplum and sunshine daydreams are all well and good, but Price’s own agent has basically let it slip out Price want to be the best, and that might not only pertain to the playing field. If that rhetoric stands, new Dodger SP Zack Grienke and his MLB record 6-year, $147 million dollar acquisition might be pushed to the #2 slot when Price hit the Free Agent market.

Price himself has let out little sound feelings that suggest he wants to be the best, and by the way he has produced on the field and stayed clean off it during his career, teams would be crazy not to line up and try to get him signed on the dotted line. So maybe I’m throwing some rain water on the pure sunshine that Price is signed, sealed and delivered for 2013, but behind all that glitter that is Price’s new gold is the common fact this might be the first step towards the final parting of Price and the Rays.

David PriceI want to be just like so many other and be naive to the fact Price will command a possible $13-14 million dollar payday as he goes through salary arbitration again next Winter. This kind of financial burden would not cripple so many other ball clubs, but with the Rays coffers not lined in silver and gold, anything over his present $10.1 million salary could stagnant the Rays chance at improvement at other positions, especially the devoid Designated Hitter slot.

With just a 1-season contract at this moment, could Price realistically be entering the twilight of his Rays adventure? Could this type of thinking snowball and take on such momentum this season that by the Trade Deadline, Price’s name goes from a whisper to a deafening shout as a trade piece?

377261244You want to thrust such thoughts deep down into your gut and not make them even public, but the truth is unless there is some form of futuristic commitment over the next 7 months as to his financial and physical standing with this team, He could be gone.

Price has been a great Ray since his relief efforts during their World Series run back in 2008, and his star has risen to such heights even over the past 2 seasons that the Rays may not be able to hitch their wagon to him anymore as Price might have finally entered that red zone of outgrowing the Rays fiscal comfort area.

Price is that one pitcher who come but once a generation for a team struggling with their payroll like the Rays. He has produced above and beyond expectations, shown his All-Star savvy and even garnered a few pieces of lifetime hardware for his efforts. He has made his dog Astro one of the best known MLB canine groupies ever and have even brought him to cult status in Tampa Bay and around the MLB. Price has had his bumps and bruises along the way, but has shown with class and confidence his style both on and off the hill are of the top order.

Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red SoxSome might say his $10.1 million salary was at the high-end of what the Rays would want to pay for Price, but the figure is in line with estimates and media speculations. You want to be optimistic at a moment like this and applaud and commend Price for a job well done during his career and embrace his achievements as we become anxiously awaiting his 2013 return to the playing fields of Port Charlotte, Florida for Spring Training.

Maybe by then we will have heard more out of the Price camp about the future, the present situation and his own opinions on him possibly being a “Ray” long-term. But as always, there is some darkness under this ultimate floating cloud’s silver lining, especially in the hopes of tying Price to a long-term deal or extension. Some would say I’m trying to pry open the Rays Carolina Blue curtain and further exposing the approaching danger on the horizon, but maybe it is more I’m finally coming to the conclusion Price might not be the type of player who wants to be a “lifetime” Ray. Hopefully he will prove me wrong….sooner rather than later.

5 Comments

A belated welcome back — I’ve enjoyed seeing your posts again! I think a fan can make themselves crazy trying to 2nd, 3rd and 4th guess these deals, not that that stops a single one of us from trying. In So Cal, we were worrying the same things about Jered Weaver’s last 1 year deal a while back, epsecially given his agent. But then out of the blue he and the Angels had a deal richer than I was expecting the Angels to offer, so you just never know how these things might work out. As much as I covet a free agent Price for my own team — or for a National League team, so my guys don’t have to see so much of him, LOL! — I mostly hope he stays in Florida. It’s always refreshing and a lot of fun to see the good, young players stay with the team that brought them up from draftees.
— Kristen`

Kristen,
I know most of our jobs is to somehow find some truthful nuggets buried under all the talk and chatter, but some players just have you at their mercy..both good and bad. Price fits that bill. He is so pro-Rays and this region I would have thought an extension was on the front burner with an eye to being alongside Longo as he goes through his Rays days. In the recent days Price has said an extension is not out of reasoning, but you have to think that he might price himself out of the market if he goes above $ 12 for any addtional seasons.
honest gut reaction is Price is either a huge subject in late July, or not in camp in the Spring of 2014…and that hurts me to even write such a statement.

Brett, Since Stuart Sternberg put the Rays “Under Construction” and with the help of Andrew Friedman and Matt Silverman, this trio has reinvented the way this team has been pushed into it final mold. Squeezing risk, up in potential and keeping desired players in-house until they have been financial mis-fits to the puzzle, the Rays have become the poster childs for keeping cost low and potential high.
That will not change in the near future, but there could be many a banner raising to the rafters before this team spends even remotely like a top tier club.

It’s also so easy to forget that the “lifers” are a dying breed for whatever reason in baseball. In most cases, the teams that want to develop prospects and sign them long-term don’t have the money to do so, and the teams that have the money to do so ship them off for player that will help them “win now”. I don’t like it, but sadly Mr. Longoria appears to be the exception to the rule and not the norm. Also, I salute you for not using a single “Price” pun in this oh-so-tempting entry.
-Mateo

http://mateofischer.mlblogs.com

Mateo,
I am of that Longo mold. I played for a team that I would have stayed with until they threw me off the field if not for my injury. It is a dying breed, and an admirable trait that has long lost its luster, but I think Price also has that in himself to stay for the long haul, but the pull of high dollars and guaranteed years can change a person just as quickly to change course from their own wants.
I worked at the Evening Independent as a Sports Correspondent in the 80’s, and hated we did our stories in the field or by telephone and some copy clerk got to decide our headline or story zingers. I promised myself not to be too cheesy, and quite frankly, with the name like “Price”, its too easy for so many media members to fall on comic relief instead of your own quality mind for a good zinger or headline.

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