Are David Price’s days with the Rays numbered?

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In a column posted at ESPN yesterday, Jayson Stark goes over some future possibilities for Rays ace and defending AL Cy Young award winner David Price. The lefty will earn just north of $10 million this season and has two more years of arbitration left in which his price tag figures to dramatically increase relative to the Rays’ smallish payroll. The Rays could try to sign him to a long-term contract extension, buying out those years in the process, but they may not be able to afford a player whose peers — Felix Hernandez, Cole Hamels, Matt Cain — have received paydays in the $125-175 million range.

The Rays currently have only $14 million committed for the 2014 season, $7.5 million of which will go to third baseman Evan Longoria, but they will have to deal with potentially eight other arbitration-eligible players and seven more can become free agents. Assuming they continue to operate with a payroll in the $50-60 million range, fitting Price in will affect the Rays’ ability to fill in other areas of the roster.

Andrew Friedman realizes that. From Stark:

“As I said at the time we signed Evan,” Friedman says, “we could sign another player to the same contract. The question is: If our resources don’t increase, then it’s going to be really difficult to compete. And at the end of the day, that’s what’s most important, is our ability to compete. We could easily afford another [contract] like it. The problem is the other 23 guys and what you have left to spend on them.”

The 27-year-old Price went 20-5 with a 2.56 ERA in taking home AL Cy Young honors last year and figures to be in the running for the foreseeable future. The Rays’ ability to retain his services will continue to be a hot topic as long as his future remains in question.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.