Tampa Bay Rays And The David Price Question

The Tampa Bay Rays have made some key moves this off-season, locking in first baseman James Loney for three years and bringing catcher Ryan Hanigan and left-handed relief pitcher Heath Bell on board.

Loney’s return keeps the Gold Glove-caliber infield intact and Hanigan brings a lot to the table as far as pitch framing and steal deterrence. Still, there’s one thing to which the Rays must attend:

What’s Tampa Bay going to do with David Price?

While the Rays have the 2012 Cy Young winner under contract for two more years, the talk of the town is that a David Price trade will happen this year. However, Andrew Friedman, the Tampa Bay Rays executive vice president of baseball operations, isn’t in any hurry to offload his ace lefty any time soon. In fact, he’s not in any hurry to openly discuss the prospect of doing so.

But the architect of the Tampa Bay Rays’ success did tell MLB.com’s Bill Chastain his philosophy headed into the winter meetings.

“Our longstanding goal, as we head into any offseason, is to try and thread a very narrow middle, which is to be as good as we can be in the upcoming season, and continue to keep one eye on the future in terms of being able to sustain success for as long as we can, Every guy in our organization has a little different fit in how they help us in the short-term and how they help us in the long-term. It’s our job to kind of navigate that to figure out how we put together as competitive a team as we can.”

So, as far as Rays fans are concerned, no news is good news when it comes to potentially dealing David Price. When asked why the Tampa Bay Rays would ever want to deal Price, Chastain addressed it thusly:

“First, the Rays have never publicly stated they intend to trade Price. However, reading between the lines and considering the way the team has always done business, it’s a good bet the club is fielding offers for the 2012 American League Cy Young Award winner. While Tampa Bay is likely listening to offers for Price, I don’t believe the club feels any pressure to trade him unless it gets its socks knocked off by an offer.”

With Tampa Bay’s small-market standing, it’s unlikely they’ll be able to come close to re-signing the powerful southpaw when he hits the free agent market. The sooner the Rays deal him, the more they would be able to expect in return as the recipient would be getting more of David Price’s precious contract time.

While Rays manager Joe Maddon doesn’t want to lose his top starter, he says it’s a part of the game you just have to be ready for.

“If it were to happen, it’s one of those that’s almost the word ‘devastating’ in a sense,” the Tampa Bay skipper said via ESPN. “But we have to recover from those kind of moments if it does actually occur.”

What kind of compensation should the Tampa Bay Rays expect for the likes of David Price?