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.
Free agent right-hander Tim Lincecum isn’t ready to hang up his cleats just yet. At least, that’s the word from Lincecum’s agent, Rick Thurman, who says the 32-year-old is still “throwing and getting ready for the season” (via Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News).
Lincecum may not be ready to enter retirement, but another quote from Thurman suggests that he’ll be picky about where he pitches next. He doesn’t appear open to pitching overseas, and despite not having a contract for 2017 (or even any serious suitors), the right-hander is set on pitching in the big leagues this year. Whether or not he’s willing to take a bullpen role to do so remains to be seen.
While Baggarly predicts some interest in the veteran righty, there’s not much in Lincecum’s recent history to inspire faith in him as a starter, or even a reliever. He picked up a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Angels following his hip surgery in 2015, and went 2-6 in 2016 with a 9.16 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings. At this point, a minor league contract seems like the surest path back to major league success, though he’s unlikely to find an open spot on the Giants’ or Angels’ rosters anytime soon.
Free agent right-hander Jeff Manship has reportedly signed with the NC Dinos of the Korea Baseball Organization, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The righty was non-tendered by the Indians in December.
Manship, 32, completed his second season with Cleveland in 2016. He delivered a 3.12 ERA, 4.6 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 rate over 43 1/3 innings, a slight decline after posting an 0.92 ERA with the club the year before. During eight years in the major leagues, Manship carries a 4.82 career ERA, 3.6 BB/9 and 6.4 SO/9 in multiple stints with the Twins, Rockies, Phillies and Indians.
The right-hander will be joined by fellow MLB transplants Eric Hacker and Xavier Scruggs, each of whom took one-year deals with the Dinos last month. Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors notes that each KBO team is allowed up to three foreign players, so Manship will round out the trio when he joins the roster. Any salary terms have yet to be disclosed.