MLB roundup: Rays' president expects Price to stay, Giants extend Arias

Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE

Thursday's big news centered on Matt Garza and Grant Balfour finding new clubs and some of these smaller stories might have gone unnoticed.

At a press conference to announce the Grant Balfour deal, Rays owner Stuart Sternberg said that he expects David Price to be with the team in 2014, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

Price, who will make $14 million during the upcoming season, is quickly becoming too expensive for the small market Rays, and rumors have swirled for months that they would look to deal him before the season began in order to get the biggest possible return. The 2012 Cy Young winner will be a free agent after the 2015 season and should easily command more than $100 million if the Rays or whomever they trade him to don't extend him before hitting the market.

Giants extend Arias, haven't made progress with Belt

The Giants have avoided arbitration and extended backup infielder Joaquin Arias on a two-year, $2.6 million deal, according to Andrew Baggarly of CSN Bay Area. Baggarly also reported that the contract includes performance incentives. Signing Arias leaves Brandon Belt as the Giants' only unsettled case, with the two sides no closer to a deal than when they came in with offers $1.5 million apart. If no deal is reached, a hearing will be held in February.

Arias' career .271/.284/.342 slash line is nothing to write home about, but his ability to play all over the infield and in a corner outfielder spot in a pinch gives him value as a big league backup. Belt, on the other hand, was one of the best first basemen in the league in 2013, combining a well above average bat with solid defense at first base over 571 plate appearances. His asking price of $3.6 million will be tough for the Giants to fight if the case goes before an arbitrator.

Ervin Santana still seeking a big deal

As of last week, Ervin Santana was still looking for a four-year deal worth close to $60 million, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports. Santana has been connected to numerous teams this winter, but everything had been in a holding pattern while the league waited on Masahiro Tanaka.

Santana has had a very uneven career, with five of his nine seasons being at or below league average, three of his nine seasons slightly above league average, and one of his nine seasons registering at all-star levels. Santana's value is also dampened by the attached draft pick compensation that would cause the signing team to lose its highest unprotected pick in June's amateur draft.

Orioles, Rodney talking contract

With Balfour off the market and Tampa Bay no longer looking for a closer, the Orioles and free agent Fernando Rodney are making progress on a deal, according to Jonah Keri of Grantland.

For most of Rodney's career, he's been hampered by a painfully high walk rate despite good strikeout numbers. In 2012, he had a year for the ages in which he allowed nine runs in 74 ⅔ innings, but had tremendous fortune in terms of stranding runners and getting outs on balls in play. Based on the limited interest, it seems that most teams think the 2014 version of Rodney won't resemble the Rodney of two seasons ago.

Orioles sign Laffey

The Orioles were also busy on Thursday signing journeyman hurler Aaron Laffey to a minor league deal, according to Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun. Laffey made five appearances for the Blue Jays and Mets in 2013. He has a 4.45 ERA and 4.74 FIP in 487 career innings.

Royals add Rauch

Also on Thursday, the Royals signed Jon Rauch to a minor league deal, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Rauch made 15 appearances for the Marlins in 2013 and pitched to some back luck as evidenced by his 7.56 ERA and 3.47 FIP. In 595 career innings, mostly in relief, Rauch has a 3.90 ERA and 4.00 FIP. The Royals had one of baseball's best bullpens in 2013, so if Rauch makes the club, he won't be asked to do much heavy lifting.

Rays designate Figueroa

In order to make room for Balfour, the Rays designated LHP Pedro Figueroa for assignment, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Figueroa, 28, has fewer than 25 career innings in the big leagues and almost all of them came with Oakland in 2012.

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