The Tampa Bay Rays may not know where they’re going to play in the immediate future, but they do know that they have one of the best left-handed starting pitchers in the game at the top of their rotation.
David Price proved that with a remarkable 2012 campaign that brought the coveted Cy Young Award to the Tampa Bay area for the first time. It’s a tremendous honor for Price, whose Rays failed to make the playoffs despite winning 90 games and posting their fourth winning season in the past five years.
That should be comforting for a low-budget team that’s found success in developing in-house talent and translating it into results on the diamond.
While the World Series this upcoming year may be a stretch, the Rays’ window for putting together a champion may be dwindling. If they are to take advantage of Price’s talented left arm they’re going to need to make a move soon.
The problem with cultivating as much talent as the Rays’ system has done is that talent wants to get paid. Rookie contracts and club options can only hold onto those precious assets for so long.
Plus, without a stable stadium situation, how willing is team owner Stuart Sternberg to go out and spend some extra cash to bring in the necessary pieces when he isn’t getting returns on his investment at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg?
It’s a troubling situation for all parties involved.
But, the Rays are still in a favorable position for the next few years in that they have Price and other star-caliber players under contract.
Price made $4.35 million in 2012 and is arbitration eligible from 2013-15. He'll become a free agent in 2016 should he not sign an extension with the team before then.
Will the Rays win a World Series with Price as their ace?
The difference will be made in who the team picks up through free agency or brings up from its system. Last season they took a gamble running with Carlos Pena and Luke Scott, both didn’t end up panning out very well.
Injuries also hampered their offensive firepower and left one of the best pitching staffs in baseball to fend for itself.
The Rays need to add a couple of steady bats to the fold and let their Cy Young winner and this pitching staff carry them to a World Series ring.
They’ll do it too. This organization is built well from the ground up and led by a manager that gets the best out of his talent.
The clock’s ticking though, Tampa. Tick tock, tick tock.