Over the past week, some of the details about the one year contract that David Price signed with the Rays came to light. Of particular interest is how his $10,112,500 salary for the deal was set up. Price received a $5Million signing bonus, and will have a base salary of just over $1Million next year, with $4Million deferred until 2014.
Why would this breakdown be significant? If there is one thing that seems to be a common theme for the front office of the Rays, they appear to be loathe to retain expensive pitchers on their roster, as evidenced by their trades of James Shields earlier this offseason, and Matt Garza after the 2010 season. By having only a shade over $1Million due to Price during the 2013 season, the Rays could theoretically maximize their return on investment, and save some money by trading him before 2014.
Does this mean that there is going to be a trade involving Price before the 2013 season? Not necessarily. Price wants to be a member of the Rays, as he has stated that he cannot imagine playing anywhere else. He is more than open to signing a long term extension with the Rays, and is hoping to do so. Yet, he is likely aware of his value in the open market, and with each day that goes by, the likelihood that the Rays will sign him to an extension may be decreasing.
Another factor in his future with the Rays may be how long he remains under team control. As a free agent following the 2015 season, Price would likely need to be traded during the 2013 offseason for the Rays to maximize his trade value. In fact, with the way his contract is set up, it almost appears as though the Rays had this in mind. Also, under the new rules of the collective bargaining agreement, the Rays could actually trade Price’s $4Million obligation to the receiving team, and not have to worry about paying him a dime beyond what is owed for 2013.
Even though a trade involving David Price may not be around the corner, there may be enough circumstantial evidence to make it seem as though one is being considered down the road. After what happened with Shields and Garza once their salaries reached a certain point, Price may end up following them out of town.