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.
The Brewers and Red Sox have struck a deal. The key part of it: reliever Tyler Thornburg is heading from Milwaukee to Boston. The entire package is not yet known, but there are simultaneous reports that Travis Shaw and two minor leaguers, Mauricio Dubon and Josh Pennington, are heading to Milwaukee.
Thornburg, 28, is coming off of a fantastic season in which he posted a 2.15 ERA while striking out 90 batters in 67 innings across 67 appearances. Thornburg assumed closer duties and saved 13 games for the Brewers after Milwaukee traded Jeremy Jeffress to Texas. Thorburg will presumably return to a setup roll in Boston behind Craig Kimbrel. The Brewers will likely go with Corey Knebel as their closer in 2017.
Shaw played third base, first base and some outfield for Boston last year but saw his production dip upon being exposed to everyday play for the first time as a big leaguer. The Sox are reportedly going to give Pablo Sandoval a shot to claim the third base job once again this spring, rendering Shaw superfluous.
The Baseball Writers Association of America has elected Claire Smith the winner of the 2017 J.G. Taylor Spink Award. She becomes the first woman to be given baseball writing’s highest honor. She will be honored with the award that is presented annually to a sportswriter “for meritorious contributions to baseball writing” during Hall of Fame inductions in Cooperstown on July 30.
Smith, 62, covered the New York Yankees for five years beginning in 1983 for the Hartford Courant before becoming a columnist with the New York Times. She later served as an editor and columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer from 1998-2007. She is now ESPN’s news editor of remote productions, responsible for the integration of news and analysis in live game broadcasts and the Baseball Tonight and Sports Center studio programs. She is a two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee and winner of three New York Times Publishers’ Awards.
Smith was named Sports Journalist of the Year from the National Association of Black Journalists in 1997, received the Mary Garber Pioneer Award from the Association of Women in Sports Media in 2000 and the Sam Lacy Award at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and Hall of Fame in 2010. She has served on the Baseball Hall of Fame Veterans Committee and was the chair of the New York chapter of the BBWAA in 1995 and 1996.