Major League Baseball's perennial Cinderella story, the Tampa Bay Rays, may have kept the wheels on the pumpkin for another year by signing starting ace left-hander David Price to a one-year contract worth $14 million to avoid arbitration.
Price's deal is the highest single-season payout in the history of the Rays' under-funded, over-performing franchise, according to ESPN. As a result of David's deal, the Rays 2014 payroll will also likely setting a high-water mark in the neighborhood of $72 million.
For his part, David—who will continue to wear No. 14 in the '14 season—thinks the $14M Price is right.
"Hopefully, it's my year since it's my number,'' Price told the Tampa Bay Times. "To have this process done is always good. It's good to know I don't have to go to arbitration.''
While the speculation surrounding David Price was that he would be big-time trade bait this offseason, the new deal might slow the rumor mill down a bit. But it doesn't mean for a moment that the Tampa Bay Rays won't consider cashing out for the right... Price.
Rays rooters may recall the fate of fan-favorite and complete-game machine "Big Game" James Shields, who Tampa Bay traded to Kansas City before the 2013 season. That deal brought the Rays 2013 AL Rookie of the Year Wil Myers.
Andrew Friedman, the Rays executive vice president, has proven a shrewd businessman during his tenure with Tampa Bay. He's also described this year's salary as "an unaffordable figure for our franchise."
If he gets the right offer for David Price, he won't hesitate to pull the trigger. Nor should he. It won't be a popular decision among fans, teammates and coaches, but it also might be the right thing for a consistently cash-poor team with attendance struggles. David Price isn't the only player who (sometimes) puts fans in the seats.
As the rest of the starting rotation matures, no-doubt soon to be led by the likes of Jeremy Hellickson, the Rays team may soon be in a situation where they can still compete without Price (provided they ship him to the National League). The emergence of Matt Moore, the continuing improvement of Alex Cobb and the progress made by Chris Archer gives them a solid four starters. David Price may have been the rock, but is he still the keystone?