March 25, 2012; Port Charlotte, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays pitcher David Price (14) during their spring training game against the Miami Marlins at Charlotte Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Is a David Price Extension Possibly Feasible for the Tampa Bay Rays?

Hi Rays fans. I’m Steve Givarz and I will be joining Rays Colored Glasses as a staff writer. I lived in Tampa for ten years before moving to St. Louis and being forced to watch the Rays from afar, but it’s exciting to get back into the game a little bit by covering the Rays here at RCG. I’m planning on talking more about the business side of baseball and the Rays’ personnel decisions in addition to a variety of other content, and I’ll start today by talking about David Price.

As Tampa Bay Rays fans know, David Price is an ace, a Cy Young winner, a Twitter fan favorite, and becoming more costly for the Rays to keep. David Price just entered his second year of arbitration (he qualified for Super 2 so he gets a fourth year of arbitration) and walked away with a good size paycheck, $10.1125 million, a significant increase from the 4.35 million he made in 2012. Price is now the highest paid player on the team by over $4 million dollars. What does this mean for his future with the Rays? He does not have a team friendly deal similar to Longoria, Moore, or Zobrist. According to Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports, Price is “not taking a discount”. As we saw in the offseason earlier, James Shields and Wade Davis were traded to Kansas City even though both pitchers were under team-friendly contracts in order to help the team. So what would it take for him to stay with the Rays? Below I have listed some of the largest contracts given to pitchers over the past five years. 

As you can see, each contract has an AAV of over $20 million and besides Halladay each contract is at least 5 years in length. David Price will be a free agent in 2016 and his value will most likely be similar to that of CC Sabathia when he hit the market or Johan Santana when he signed his extension with the Mets. An interesting case to keep an eye at is another dominant young lefty, Clayton Kershaw of the LA Dodgers. He will not be arbitration eligible again until 2014, making $11 million in 2013 in the final year of a 2-year extension he signed with the Dodgers after the 2011 season. If the Dodgers (aka the Federal Reserve) decide to extend the young ace, Price’s extension would not be far behind considering he’s just about as good and only two years older. If Kershaw isn’t extended, he will be a free agent following the 2014 season, the year before Price is slated to hit the market.

Could a David Price extension be economically feasible for the Rays? Well unless the Rays break ground on a new stadium or work out a new TV deal before it expires in 2016 that will pay them an obscene amount of money, I doubt it. For the 2014 season, Tampa Bay Bay has $14M committed (team options and arbitration cases pending). It is more than likely that David Price will make over $14M in arbitration next year.  For a small-market team that is struggling with attendance, higher payroll is not a good idea, a contract over $20M would take up about a third of the existing payroll. If Tampa Bay Bay wants to avoid going into arbitration for the next two years with Price they can sign him to a two-year deal until he becomes a FA in 2016. But that kind of deal will most likely cost between 12-16 million per year; which again places a tough restriction on future deals. When the Rays were dealing with Carl Crawford in his last season, Tampa knew they would not be able to retain him, so he walked and eventually signed for seven years and 142M. With an AAV of just over 20M if he signed with Tampa Bay for that cost, it would have placed major restrictions on the team in the future that would have been exceedingly hard for them to overcome.

Does this mean that the Rays have essentially no choice but to trade Price following the 2013 season or maybe even at the trade deadline should their season start off poorly? No, but it’s certainly a real possibility as he would be the most desired pitcher on the trade block and he’s only getting more expensive each season. Looking at the list of free agent starting pitchers for 2014, some big names include Tim Lincecum, Josh Johnson, Adam Wainwright, Roy Halladay and Matt Garza. All of these pitchers will be above 30 if and when they go to free agency, and everyone but Lincecum has injury concerns and Lincecum has been extremely enigmatic the last couple of seasons. Price will be just 28 in August and has missed exactly one start his entire major league career. Rays fans can hope until the very end that something will happen to change the reality that’s rapidly closing in, but Price will be the hottest commodity on the trade market next offseason and the chances of a trade seem more likely by the day.

Next Rays Game View full schedule »

Tags: David Price Tampa Bay Rays

  • Guest

    Very well done! Look forward to reading more from you!

  • david egbert

    Sorry but that ship has sailed. The only chance the Rays had to keep Price for 5-6 years was to sign him to a Matt Moore type deal after year one.

    • Robbie_Knopf

      And that never happened because he was coming off injury concerns in 2008 and then was awful in 2009, and by 2010 he was already an ace. Yeah, things aren’t looking good right now.

      • david egbert

        Thanks for responding to my comments. I enjoy your site. I was a long time contributor to Bod Andleman’s E-mail the Rays site when it was active.
        Dave Egbert

        • Robbie_Knopf

          No problem. Thanks for reading and contributing to the discussion with your comments.

  • Dave L

    There is only 2 conceivable scenarios in which we could sign Price to an extension. If he sustains a serious injury or Stu sells the team to some wacky zillionaire. Yeah I said it (the former) and it sounds horrible but barring that bad turn, the chances are zero based on Rays history and way of doing business.

    They never get into a bidding war for services, they never sign long term deals when the player has a concievable plan B any time soon on the horizon,

    They maximize accumulating guys in their first tour of duty and trading those who blossom and can bring more in return than what they offer in thier final years of control.. And they trade for more of those early in thier first tour. They have never strayed even once from this path. Never.

    Once this season is over or if it is over before its over if you know what i mean, the Rays will coldly and calculatingly consider offers for Price. Then consider if its better than the $14 to $19M 2014 will cost us for his services. Not to mention the $18 to $23+ he may cost us in 2015.

    He’s gone in 6 to 21 months guaranteed. Enjoy him while we can.

    They never eat their scarce seed corn. They always plant it

  • Pingback: Post 17: Digital Ethics and Negotiating Virtual Spaces | stevegivarz