David Price thinks Masahiro Tanaka affected his trade market during the off-season

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David Price’s name has been and will continue to be thrown around in trade rumors as the lefty $14 million in 2014 and is eligible for arbitration for one more year before hitting free agency. The small market Rays are expected to eventually trade Price as they have done in the past with Matt Garza and James Shields.

The trade could have happened this off-season, but Price thinks that the Masahiro Tanaka bidding slowed down the market as teams waited for the Japanese star to pick a team. Tanaka eventually signed with the Yankees on January 22 on a seven-year, $155 million deal. From ESPN’s Jayson Stark:

“I felt like this offseason, everything just kind of fell in my corner, for me to stay with the Rays,” Price said Saturday, on the first day of his seventh spring training as a Ray. “With Tanaka not being able to sign until the 24th [of January] and stuff like that, it seemed like teams waited for that market to fall. You know, if he had signed during the winter meetings or something, it might have been a little bit different. That would have given teams a lot more time to figure out what they wanted to do.

“So I thought that after Tanaka signed, that next seven or eight days were pretty big. After that, I got to breathe a little bit. And today is a big day as well. Once I got to spring training, I felt like I would kind of be here.”

The Indians, Giants, Dodgers, Mariners, and Rangers were among the teams interested when rumors were rampant earlier this off-season.

Red Sox owner: “spending money helps”

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The other day Rob Manfred said, as he and other owners have said often in the past, that there is no correlation between payroll and winning. He said that defensively, in response to criticism of the slow free agent market of the past two offseasons.

As we have noted in the past, Manfred is not being honest about that. While, yes, in any given year there can be wild variation between payroll and win total — the Giants stunk last year, the A’s won 97 games — common sense dictates otherwise. What’s more, a recent study has shown that there is a pretty strong correlation between winning and payroll over time. Yes, you can fluke into a big season with a low payroll — Deadspin compared it to a cold snap occurring during a time of climate change — but if you want that “sustained success” teams claim they want, the best way to ensure it is to spend more money over time.

If you know anything about baseball labor history, though, you know well that the Commissioner and the owners will continue to mischaracterize the dynamics of the business as it suits them. Mostly because — present lefty sportswriters notwithstanding — very few people push back on their narratives. Fans tend to parrot ownership’s line on this stuff and, more often than not, baseball media acts as stenographer for ownership as opposed to critic. That gives owners a far greater ability to shape the narrative about all of this than most institutions.

Which makes this all the more awkward. From David Schoenfield of ESPN:

In apparent contradiction to his own commissioner, Boston Red Sox owner John Henry said Monday that, while there is not a perfect correlation between a bigger payroll and winning, “spending more money helps.”

Which is right. The correlation is not perfect — teams can spend a lot of money on a bad team if given the chance and a low payroll team like the Rays can bullpen their way to 90 wins — but you’re way more likely to win year-in, year-out if you’re spending than if you go cheap all the time and hope for a miracle season.

Which is not to say that Henry is some labor activist owner. He and his fellow front office officials have a long history of backing the league office on just about everything that matters and will no doubt do so with labor matters in the runup to the next CBA negotiation. The owners tend not to have a solidarity problem.

But Henry does seem to draw the line at peddling baloney, which is a shockingly necessary thing when the league and the union’s relationship turns acrimonious.