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.

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

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Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.