Mar. 27, 2012; Peoria, AZ, USA; San Diego Padres infielder Chase Headley at bat against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Peoria Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA Today Sports

Comment From Padres’ Chase Headley Provides Insight Into David Price’s Future With the Rays

There are very few players in a comparable situation to the one David Price is with the Rays right now- a great player who loves playing for his current team, but who is so valuable and so close to free agency that an extension may not be possible, and if that’s really the case, a trade might be inevitable. One the closest parallels out there might be Padres third baseman Chase Headley, coming off a 5th place season in the NL MVP voting after a huge season that saw him hit .286 with 31 home runs and 17 stolen bases, win a Gold Glove, and most impressively, lead the NL in RBIs at 115 despite playing for the San Diego Padres in the extremely pitcher-friendly Petco Park. Headley avoided arbitration with the Padres by agreeing to a 1-year, $8,575,000 contract but will be eligible for free agency following the 2014 season (Price will be a free agent following 2015) and talked to Bill Center of the San Diego-Union Times about that possibility of signing an extension to keep him with the Padres long-term.

“We talked about a long-term contract briefly at the start of these negotiations,” said Headley. “It was a quick discussion. We weren’t on the same page right from the start. This close to free agency, it has to be a good deal for us. You can’t sacrifice what’s fair.

“If we can do something that makes sense, I’d love to stay a Padre.”

There’s a clear duality in Headley’s comments: he wants to stay with the Padres, but at the same time he wants a deal up to the standard and monetary values that he believes he should receive. He specifically mentions that “This close to free agency, it has to be a good deal for us”- just a couple years from free agency, he’s not going to sign a team-friendly extension to receive financial security. He knows how good of a player he is and what type of money he could make on the open market, and while he hopes the Padres give him a competitive offer and maybe he would choose to stay in San Diego for a slightly less money, his ultimate goal is the find the best contract for him, and if that doesn’t come with the Padres, so be it. The exact same thinking is evident between David Price and the Rays, but with Price being an even better player than Headley, the situation may be even more dire.

After everything that he has given the Rays the last five years, it’s impossible for Rays fans to imagine a Rays team without David Price. On Price’s end, he can’t picture playing anywhere else. But sentimentality isn’t everything for Price as he thinks about his future. Price didn’t sign a team-friendly extension years ago and now free agency is staring right in the face. It’s one thing to leave a couple million dollars a year on the table to stay in the place that he’s played his entire career. It’s another matter entirely when the best contract the Rays could possibly offer Price pales in comparison with the type of deal he could get on the open market. Rays fans can hope that maybe with additional TV money coming in, the Rays will be willing to go above and beyond what they do for any other player not named Evan Longoria and give Price an offer he’ll at least have to seriously consider. They can hope that Price keeps a level head in negotiations and is willing to make sacrifices to stay with the team that has given him everything the possibly could since the moment they signed him. But if the Rays never give him an offer in line with what he believes he should receive, his feelings will mean little because an extension will be impossible for him to justify. And once the Rays see that the negotiations have reached that point, a Rays future without David Price could be happening sooner rather than later.

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Tags: Chase Headley David Price San Diego Padres Tampa Bay Rays

  • MrWhamBam

    he’s as good as gone. He’s not stupid. Economically, it makes no sense for him to take a hometown discount. This aint rocket science. To date, THE ONLY guy that has been extended to, what we here in SD would call a HUGE extension, was Jake Peavy…and where is he now?

    this team plays in a pitchers’ ballpark, not a hitters ballpark. So, if you are a key player on this team that happens to make a living, HITTING a baseball, you know your days are numbered, whether you play very well or not.

    Hell, Towers tried to extend Khalil Greene to more than the 11 million that he ended up getting..AND GREENIE damn near refused it. Why?…because he didnt like hitting in Petco Park, thats why.

    So, Chase is as good as gone. He’s saying that he’d like to stay,, because its the politically correct thing to do…but he knows damm well, that he’s probably going to be traded at some point this season.

    If the Padres fall out of contention, he’s gone, no two ways about it. They’ll get another haul of prospects, with a starting pitcher in the deal. What they want is for Chase to play well right from the start of the season, so his value dont drop off much.

    • Robbie_Knopf

      The good news for the Padres as opposed to the Rays is that they have new ownership with more money at their disposal and a desire to lock up their stars, as they showed with Carlos Quentin. If the Padres get the right offer, they’ll trade him, but you have to believe that they’re going to do everything in their power to extend Headley and there’s at least a 35% or 40% chance that it will actually happen (while Price is more like 10 to 1 if even that high).

      • MrWhamBam

        I don’t think the Rays have a problem locking up players, when they locked up Longoria for 100 million, and Moore thru his arbitration yrs. i suspect they could lock Price up if they really wanted to, but in my opinion, given the talent pool that resides in their rotation, he may be more valuable as a trade piece, than a mainstay on that staff

        • Robbie_Knopf

          The difference is that Longoria and Moore agreed to extremely team-friendly deals. It’s foolish to assume that Price would do the same.

          • MrWhamBam

            100,000,000 bones is not “team friendly”, I dont care what team you play for.Longoria may have a injury history that may have kept him making more than that, but we’ll never really know.

            Im a Price fan, and Im not even a Rays fan, but to my mind, Longoria is still way more valuable than David, given how oftenhe plays…he’s not playing “every 5 days” like Price.

            Price may not take a hometown deal, but then again, if he gets traded (and I think he will), his trade will speak more to who they think is the more valuable player.

            and lastly, we’re not having this discussion if Matt Moore hadn’t showed the ability of an ace….

  • Dave L

    Yes this comparison goes to the point I was making earlier this offseason about the Rays never having a realistic chance of signing Price short, long or medium term Robbie.

    When a guy is on a meteroic careeer trajectory with virtually no hiccups and supreme confidence to boot, a team with basically 1/3 the monopoly money as the other teams has zero chance to sign that type of guy. He is headed for a overpay and he knows it and the Rays under Friedman never overpay. Even in the control years he ‘knows’ his stock will rise beyond what even the most optimistic believe.

    Headley in Petco with the offensive challenged Pades is the perfect analogy to DP facing the AL East with everybody ace on the mound to boot in the process. He lead his team in everything that was meaningful as you say.

    Neither team ever had a chance, thats just life and we have to accept it. Headley confirmed what I maintaned for Price last month. The conversations were brief because the gulf was vast and insurmountable.

    • Robbie_Knopf

      The only chance the Rays could possibly extend Price for any period of time (even just his remaining arbitration seasons) was if they had TV money at their disposal that they could use to make such a deal happen. We still don’t know about that. But yes, everything seems like Price will be heading out the door following 2013. It would take a ton of sacrifices on Price’s part for him to stay in Tampa Bay and it’s unrealistic to have any expectations that he’ll do that.