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David Price open to extension with Rays ‘if it’s realistic’

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A big part of the Tampa Bay Rays’ strategy to compete with the big-market bullies in the AL East is to sign their young, talented players to long-term deals, giving those players some long-term security while buying out their arbitration-eligible years and ideally a year or two of free agency as well.

It worked with Carl Crawford, it worked with James Shields, and it worked most famously with Evan Longoria. And just the other day, the Rays did it again, signing pitcher Wade Davis to a four-year deal that also has three team options tacked onto the end.

Next up on the Rays’ wish list? How about locking up ace left-hander David Price to a long-term deal? Price told Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times that he is open to the idea.

“If it’s realistic, absolutely, that is something I would definitely do,” Price said. “I love it here, absolutely. Everyone here knows that I’m a huge fan of this organization and all the people that are in the clubhouse. I feel like it’s the right place for me.”

The phrase “if it’s realistic” is a rather large qualifier in Price’s statement, and the pitcher didn’t expand on what exactly that meant. Price is set to make $1.25 million this season, and $1.5 million next year, but has the right to void that contract and go to arbitration in 2012, which he almost certainly will do.

The key will be how many years of free agency Price will allow the Rays to purchase in an extension. I would be surprised if he gave the Rays three team option years, as Longoria and Davis did. But Price’s agent is Bo McKinnis (past clients including Mike Mussina, Paul Byrd, Jose Canseco), – not Scott Boras — so you never know.

Longoria, not surprisingly, said he would like to see Price follow his path.

“I’m locked into a contract, which I’m very happy about, and I hope that something like that could happen with David, whether it be a two-, three-, four-year extension or something longer.”

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Orioles re-sign Michael Bourn to a minor league deal

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 04:  Michael Bourn #1 of the Baltimore Orioles hits a single in the fifth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays during the American League Wild Card game at Rogers Centre on October 4, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
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The Orioles have re-signed outfielder Michael Bourn to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league camp, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Bourn, 34, joined the Orioles last year in a trade from the Diamondbacks on August 31. Though he compiled a meager .669 OPS with the Diamondbacks, Bourn hit a solid .283/.358/.435 in 55 plate appearances with the O’s through the end of the season.

Bourn, a non-roster invitee to camp, will try to play his way onto the Orioles’ 25-man roster. If he does make the roster, Bourn will receive a $2 million salary, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports points out.

Shelby Miller is in the best mental shape of his life

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 24:  Shelby Miller #26 of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitches in the first inning during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on May 24, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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Diamondbacks starter Shelby Miller had about as bad a season as one can have. He was the headliner in the trade that sent 2015 No. 1 overall pick Dansby Swanson, All-Star outfielder Ender Inciarte, and highly-regarded pitching prospect Aaron Blair to the Braves. It was a trade that was pilloried at the time and continues to be pilloried to this day.

Miller didn’t do then-GM Dave Stewart any favors with his 2016 performance. He went 3-12 with a 6.15 ERA and a 70/42 K/BB ratio over 101 innings. That included a bout with mechanical failure, as he kept hitting the mound with his follow-through. He went on the disabled list. And after that, he was demoted to Triple-A. After getting fired, Stewart expressed remorse over acquiring Miller — or, more accurately, giving up Swanson to do so.

So, the 26-year-old Miller heads into 2017 without any momentum. To his credit, though, he’s going into the new season with a very positive perspective. Via Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:

I’m just in a really happy place, away from the field, on the field. […]

Maybe it’s just the way I go about everything, trying to be positive in every single aspect of life. Baseball’s not perfect. I’m not perfect. I know bumps in the road are going to happen. Last year was obviously not just a bump, but a huge mountain. Right now, that’s completely behind me. I’m not worried about any of that.

I’m really ready for this year, ready to redeem myself so much.

Even pitching coach Mike Butcher sees the change in Miller’s mentality. “He’s not a different guy. But you can see there’s a presence in him. That’s what we need. Just be Shelby Miller. You don’t have to live up to anything. Just be yourself.”

Manager Torey Lovullo, too, praised Miller. “I saw a guy who had spent a lot of time taking care of his business in the weight room — he looks fantastic, in fantastic shape,” he said.

It sounds like Miller is not only in great mental shape, but great physical shape, too. Is it the “best shape of his life”? Only time can tell.