Sorry, but the David Price fantasy is over.
The man is just too expensive. Not in a contract sense, but a lump sum of $14 million this year before being eligible for arbitration one last time over the winter, per Spotrac.
No, the market price on, well, Price, is simply too high at this point, thanks to a copious amount of factors that boil down into a really barebones set of statements. Price is really good. The rest of the market? Not so much. Tampa Bay is suddenly really good. Seller status? Revoked.
There was a time not too long ago when the Rays were careening toward the bottom of the AL East, a feat that can never be fully realized this season thanks to downright incompetence that wafts from Boston. The Rays have won nine of their last 10, which brings them into flirtation with .500 range after sitting at 18 games under that mark.
A mere seven games out of first place, it suddenly does not look like such a great idea to abandon a 28-year-old hurler who has been downright dominant in recent years:
Of course, that will not stop general manager Andrew Friedman and his front office from seeing what the market has to offer, as CBS Sports' Jon Heyman helps to illustrate:
Colleagues suggest Friedman has the guts to deal Price when the team has rallied from nowhere to the cusp of the AL pennant race. A few even suggest that he may prefer to pull the trigger. "We are talking and willing. [We'll] see if any teams have the desire," one Rays-connected source said.
Obviously. Friedman can use the team's recent performance and Price's six straight wins as ammo to drive the asking price higher than ever before. Should a contender offer the motherload, he is not in an enviable position when it comes time to make a decision at Thursday's deadline.
“Guessing Price is sold at 200 percent markup or not moved,” one rival GM said, per Heyman.
Even at a markup, dealing Price sends a horrific message to a clubhouse that has worked tirelessly to bring itself back from the dead. Team chemistry neutered, the Rays might as well fly a white flag at Tropicana Field for the remainder of the season.
That would explain why nothing is going to happen on this front, at least not this season. A mere week or so ago, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe noted that contenders such as the St. Louis Cardinals want a long-term commitment from Price before shipping away the farm—literally—to Tampa Bay:
Would Price ever sign with the Mariners long term? The Mariners don’t view it as an issue because they would have Price for the remainder of this year and next. The Cardinals have shown interest but would want a financial commitment, according to a major league source. Don’t rule out the Giants, who also have had interest in Ben Zobrist to solve their second base situation. The Rays, however, know they need top value in return, just as the Phillies would need for Hamels.
Obviously things have changed since then, and that goes double for the status of arms available on the market. Teams in search of an ace may no longer look to the surging Rays and lofty prices, instead opting to wrangle Jon Lester from the Red Sox for better value.
For his part, Price just wants to not be like so many other stars who have been thrust into the market's spotlight with little leverage.
"I don't want to let anyone with my situation affect how I am in the clubhouse and on the field,'' Price said, per USA Today's Bob Nightengale. "If I let it affect me, then it'll definitely affect the team, and affect my teammates. I don't want to be a distraction.''
Thursday marks the deadline, and the Rays will either be floundering away after the loss of their best player or continuing a hot streak toward the top with a renewed focus because management has shown it believes in their postseason chances.
As for the contenders on the hunt to purchase, other more affordable commodities are out there. Price is the preferred option, sure, but as the popular saying goes—there's always next year.