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.”