It broke earlier today that the Rays agreed to terms with David Price on a one-year deal worth $14 million to avoid arbitration. It’s great that the Rays re-signed Price, but it seems like that number is a little bit too high. As we talked about earlier today, Price was projected by MLB Trade Rumors to make $13.1 million and Matt Swartz had him at $13.5 million when he assessed the case using comparable players. It will be also be the second straight time through arbitration that Price makes a higher salary that he was expected to make. The Rays are usually so great at these things–why did Price get more money than he was worth? The answer is that Price agreeing to terms has more to do with just the actual monetary value.
The Rays gave Price somewhere from $500,000 to $1 million more than he was worth. But at the end of the day, it is just a drop in the bucket compared to keeping their ace happy. Price has gone through a tumultuous offseason. As it began, he wholeheartedly expected to be traded and so did everybody else. But now Price appears to be set to return for 2014, and the Rays need him at full strength both physically and mentally. We hear that there are no hard feelings after arbitration, but the Rays had nothing to gain attempting to antagonize Price to save a few hundred thousand dollars. There also appears to be little chance that the Rays will be paying Price in 2015, so it is just say $1 million now and not $1 million more for next year as well. In Price’s mind, he has the money he deserved and can hit the ground running for the 2014 season.
The other factor is that the Rays could not afford to be bogged down negotiating with Price when they have so much else on the table. Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Joyce, Jake McGee, Sean Rodriguez, Jose Lobaton, and Cesar Ramos are all arbitration-eligible as well, and they have to find a way to get them all signed. Now the Rays have the big deal out of way and have a little momentum as they get to all the smaller ones. The Rays are letting each player know that they want to get deals done and not worry about the possibility of a hearing. They will not give everybody else the leeway they gave Price, but the Rays want to do everything possible to agree to terms that keep everyone happy. Everyone wants the final day before teams and players have to exchange figures to feature all five remaining Rays agreeing to terms, and hopefully that is about to take place.