Over Andrew Friedman’s tenure as General Manager of the Tampa Bay Rays, the Rays have been proactive in regards to locking up younger players before they reached arbitration, or before their contracts would become onerous against their payroll. Evan Longoria, signed to a long term contract six days after reaching the major leagues, is the prime example of the Rays striking early. Yet, they have done so with other players, such as Matt Moore, James Shields, and Carl Crawford.
David Price, coming off perhaps his best season thus far in his career, is going to be heading to his second arbitration hearing. After leading the American League in ERA and tying for the lead in wins, Price has not only placed himself squarely in consideration for the Cy Young Award, but likely ensured himself a healthy salary increase in the process.
Given how Price performed in 2012, and 2010 for that matter, it is speculated that he could receive approximately $9Million in arbitration this year, an amount that would set a record for highest salary by a second year arbitration eligible player. Even with the salaries of Carlos Pena and possibly Luke Scott coming off the books for 2013, that is still a hefty price tag for a one year deal for the Rays.
Should Price get that type of a salary in arbitration and pitch as well or better in 2013, his contract would likely exceed what the Rays would be able to afford. As it stands, his projected salary would be pushing the limits of their payroll. Therefore, the Rays, if they consider Price part of their long-term plans, should look to sign him to a contract as soon as possible.
Negotiations would likely have to start in the 4 year/$40Million range, but that number would probably have to increase for the Rays to sign him. Should they do so, however, the Rays would have a pitcher who has proven to be a stopper and a legitimate staff ace for what would likely be less than market value. Yet, Price and his agent are likely aware of his value on he open market, given the dearth of true number one starters in baseball, and may demand much more than the Rays can afford.
Even though the Rays control David Price through 2014, they need to make a decision as to whether or not he can fit into their long term plans. The first step would likely to be approach Price and his agent to find out what it would take to sign him to an extension. Price already said that he wanted an extension with the Rays, so the interest is there on his side. However, this likely needs to be done soon, as the price for Price is likely to only increase.