There is a pitching boom in baseball right now, and I’ll never get tired of saying that. Maybe it’s because I’m a traditionalist and I like my baseball like it used to be in the days of Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson. That line of thinking also, to some degree, qualifies me as a hipster but let’s not get into that because we have a much more important issue than people that dress nostalgic and think they’re superior therefor.
David Price is a throwback to great pitchers but if you crunch the numbers and evaluate history like Buster Onley has, you’ll find this vintage pitcher is going to get a new home sometime soon.
The thing about Rays players is that they tend to have team friendly contracts — a sort of win-win scenario where both the player gets paid a considerable amount but it doesn’t tie all the teams money up in that one deal.
Evan Longoira had a team friendly original contract in 2008 that has since been extended into an even larger but still team friendly deal. James Shields and Matt Moore, two other pitchers in the Rays rotation, both also signed team friendly deals but Price didn’t and that’s the reason he’s going to have to eventually go.
It’s not that Price doesn’t like Tampa, or that he’s a problem child. The man just wants to get paid, this is a capitalist society and he’s got every right to want to get paid what he thinks he’s worth. The Rays don’t have to pay him that amount but he’s one of the best arms in the game today — heck he’s a Cy Young winner– so he can make any demand he wants.
But as Onley points out, even if the Rays wanted to keep Price at the price he’s setting, they literally can’t do it with the money and contracts that they have. This means, like with Zack Greinke and the Royals, a trade is going to be inevitable.
From Onley’s ESPN Insider blog:
So, in the Rays’ never-ending fight to manage their payroll, they’ll listen to offers for Price, and they are in position to demand an incredible package of prospects.
The Royals put Zack Greinke in the trade market when he was still two years from free agency, and Milwaukee GM Doug Melvin walked down to the suite of Royals GM Dayton Moore at the winter meetings and offered shortstop Alcides Escobar and center fielder Lorenzo Cain
Price doesn’t have the historical baggage Greinke did at that time, and he seems to be blossoming right now — and the sooner some team trades for him, the more likely it would be for that team to be able to sign Price to a long-term deal. The closer he gets to free agency, the more likely it would be that he would go out on the open market. The sooner a team trades for him, the more of its pennant races he can affect.
Unless something drastic changes in the Rays payroll in the next few seasons, it seems Price will be another victim to a small market team failing to be able to secure enough funds to keep a star in town. It happened to the Royals and Greinke, it happened to the Minnesota Twins and Johan Santana and it’s going to happen as long as baseball exists.
The question in Tampa now becomes not if Price will be traded, but when and to whom?