Jayson Stark of ESPN.com has a long piece looking at the trade market for David Price. Among the many angles covered is this important nugget that often goes overlooked:
“And technically, the Rays also can afford to pay Price over the next two years if they choose to, although it would force them to make sacrifices in other areas.”
Remember, while Carl Crawford was under a long-term contract and did not make as much money as Price will make, the Rays did not trade their All-Star left fielder even though everybody said they would and more importantly everybody said the Rays had to.
The fact is, the Rays don’t have to trade anybody, even Price. And if the Rays don’t think the offers are big enough, they won’t trade Price. End of story.
Teams and agents surveyed by Stark speculate that Price will make $30-37 million in the next two seasons if he goes through the arbitration process. He is projected to make $13.1 million in 2014 which suggests he would make $17-24 million in 2015. However, it is unrealistic to think he would jump from $13 million to $24 million, so $17-20 million is more realistic.
As Stark notes, when a player like Scott Kazmir is making $22 million over the next two years, suddenly $30-33 million for Price seems like a steal.
Of course, the Rays would prefer not to pay one player that much when the overall payroll would only be $65-75 million. But it can be done.
Like all teams, the Rays will pocket an extra $25 million this season through the new national television contracts. While that won’t help in free agency (all teams have more money), it does give the payroll more flexibility and there is less pressure to trade a player like Price.
In addition, clubs have told Stark that the Rays would actually get a better trade package if they waited until the deadline to move Price. However, Joe Maddon told the media yesterday that the Rays are less likely to trade Price during the season.
In the meantime, Andrew Friedman will remain patient and wait for teams to come to him as he always does:
“One thing about Andrew is, he never acts like he has to do something,” said one of the executives quoted earlier. “And that’s because he never does. … They’re always trying to win, but they never have to win. Not the way the Yankees have to win, or the Dodgers haveto win, or the Red Sox have to win. They don’t have to, because they’re never expected to. They win 90 every year, but people never act like they’re supposed to…So he’s in a great spot. He will work it until he gets the very best deal he can make.”
In the end, nobody is going to be surprised if the Rays trade Price. But at the same time, we shouldn’t be surprised if Price is pitching for the Rays on opening day.