Thanks to his Super-2 status, David Price is eligible for arbitration this winter, a year earlier than most players (for a full explanation of Super-2 status, see below). As we mentioned earlier today, this classification allowed Price to opt-out of the final year of the contract he signed after being drafted by the Rays in 2007.
Price would have made $1.5 million if had not chosen to opt-out of his deal. Obviously Price believes he will make more than $1.5 million in arbitration. How much more? A lot more.
According to MLB Trade Rumors, Price will make approximately $7.8 million in 2012. That is a nice little pay raise for one of the best young pitchers in baseball.
It is also very scary if you are a Rays fan. Assuming Price doesn’t sign an extension with the Rays, and assuming he continues to pitch well, his arbitration figures will rise at a steep clip in 2013, 2014, and 2015. Depending on how he pitches, Price could see arbitration salaries of $11 million in 2013, $14 million in 2014 and $17 million in 2015. And even if Price does sign an extension, the extra security is not going to discount those figures very much.
Anybody think the Rays are willing to pay that much for one player?
For comparison, James Shields would most likely be a cheaper option down the road as he would make $9 million in 2013 and $12 million in 2014 if the Rays pick up the remaining options on his contract.
In other words, the Rays will pay Price in 2012. And they may even pay him in 2013. But it won’t be long before rumors start floating about the possibility of trading Price. And the chances that he is still pitching for the Rays in 2014 now seems like a pipe-dream.
* SUPER-2: In Major League Baseball a player becomes a free agent once they have reached six years of experience in the big leagues. Prior to that, a player is eligible to have their salary determined by an arbitrator if they have at least three years, but less than six years of experience. A player can qualify for arbitration a year early under what is called the “Super-2″ classification. That is, players with at least two years, but less than three years of experience are ranked based on how much time they have been in the big leagues. The top 17 percent are eligible for arbitration.