The Tampa Bay Rays avoid arbitration but can they prevent trading David Price?
David Price and the Tampa Bay Rays have agreed to a one-year deal to avoid arbitration according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The $14 million salary will be the largest one-year salary in Rays history.
Each passing day increases the reality that Price could be the team’s opening day starter rather than taking the mound elsewhere. Going into the offseason, even Price felt as if a trade would be inevitable as it fits the team’s history of moving starting pitchers with two years remaining on their contracts.
This is a very different situation and calls for a different strategy.
Here are three reasons it makes both dollars and sense for the Rays to keep Price this season.
It is hard to get fans in seats if you trade away a marquee player.
The Tampa Bay Rays finished last in attendance in 2013 despite making the postseason for the fourth time in the last six seasons.
Many will point to the outdated Tropicana Field as the culprit.
The team is investing $750,000 in stadium renovations, on top of the over $20 million spent since 2006, to improve the facility.
That investment still needs recognizable faces on the field for the fans to watch. David Price remaining with the Rays will assist in getting a good return on the investment, as well as helping them win games.
It only makes sense for the Tampa Bay Rays to hold on to David Price rather than deal him.
This is shaping up to be the year the Rays do not deal their top pitcher simply because he has two years remaining on his contract.
Unlike previous years, the Rays are returning a lineup that is virtually intact. The lineup includes an infield of James Loney, Ben Zobrist, Evan Longoria and Yunel Escobar. All four players finished 2013 as finalists for the AL Gold Glove Award. Also in the lineup is 2013 AL Rookie of the Year Wil Myers in left field.
With a team philosophy built on pitching and defense, it would be nonsensical to trade away a former Cy Young pitcher with this caliber of defense on the roster, especially if the trade does not bring major league ready players in return.
Now is not the time to acquire theoretical players of tomorrow in prospects. The Rays are in the best position to contend for a World Series with a healthy David Price leading the rotation.
The time has come for the Rays to stop being the feel-good underdog team that is consistently competitive despite having fiscal constraints.
They need to win it all no matter the price.
A one-year deal for $14 million, while high by Rays’ standards, will still be very affordable for the team.
For starters, the new television deal announced in August 2012 provides an additional $25 million in 2014 the Rays did not have in 2013.
David Price’s deal for 2014 is only $4 million more than the $10 million deal he signed in 2013. This still leaves the team with plenty of additional money to use for salary.
Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman told Roger Mooney from The Tampa Tribune earlier this month that the team’s 2014 payroll projects to be a record high.
“... we feel like we have a really good chance to be great next year. That's why we're doing what we're doing.”
The team does have a chance to be great. With the new television dollars, they have one fewer excuse to pursue it.