Doom and gloom peppered the sports talk radio and the six o-clock news formats, following the announcement that the Rays and David Price were able to avoid arbitration. Just in case you just emerged from your December 21, 2012 doomsday bunker and missed the news, Price signed a one-year $10.1125MM contract earlier this week. Now that we’re back on the same page, that Price signed the aforementioned contract is not the bad news. This contract marking what could be construed as the death knell of Price’s long-term future with the Rays is.
Price is now the highest paid Ray in franchise history, and the tacit whispers over Tampa Bay being able to afford Price after the 2013 season have become audible. I’d have to say that the collective palpitations that we Rays fans may be feeling right now are warranted.
Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times reported that he (David Price, not Smith…duh) would be open to a contract extension with Tampa Bay, but is also realistic when taking the Rays financial limitations into account.
“If it’s right, we’ll do it,” Price said. “If not, I have to understand it’s a business first and foremost. (The Rays) want to win this year but also be able to win in the future as well. They have to do what’s best for the franchise.”
The question begs: even with the projected increases in the Rays revenue in the next few years, could they afford to offer Price a Longoria like long-term contract? The answer seems hazy. Smith added in a separate article that,
With Price’s price going up, it would seem less likely for the Rays can sign him to a long-term deal, especially with their payroll situation.
“It’s a difficult thing to answer without all of the variables – term, money, all those things,” Friedman said. “It’s a difficult question to answer on any specific player. We could certainly add another larger contract, but… it puts a lot more pressure on our remaining funds, which would be much smaller to fill out 23 guys around (Evan) Longoria and whoever that contract is (for), to be able to win. Because, at the end of the day, that’s what motivates us, is winning, and having a competitive team that we can sustain. So it’s not an easy thing to answer in a vacuum.”
Suffice to say, Price’s long-term future with the Rays is a topic that will be left to conjecture and speculation, at least in the short-term. The Rays still need to fill some key positions on the roster as they continue their search for another bat or two and some bullpen help. It should be mentioned that Tampa Bay still has several remaining arbitration-eligible players (Matt Joyce, Sam Fuld, Jeff Niemann and Ryan Roberts) to deal with before they even tackle the long-term future of their ace.
- It goes without saying that the Rays need a DH. Lance Berkman’s name has popped up, but he may not be what the Rays are looking for because of his potential price tag and injury concerns. DRaysBay thinks that Luke Scott (grrr…been there, done that) or Travis Hafner could suit the Rays DH needs. Then again, they don’t don’t answer the riddle that is hitting LHP, do they? Thome??
- We posted a link to this article the other day, but it bears posting once again. The Rays really could use a couple more arms in the pen, though I’d reckon that Tampa Bay will lean on Cesar Ramos, and possibly Brandon Gomes, in 2013.
- …which brings us to Alex Torres. More specifically, what do you do with a pitcher that is almost out of options? Would he fair well in the pen, at least for the time being? He is particularly good at pitching out of the stretch and could be used in high leverage situations.
- Wondering who may still be on the market? Baseball Prospectus has their updated free agent list, available here. Who knows, maybe Friedman will sign Grant Balfour again.