The Tampa Bay Rays shopped ace starting pitcher David Price this winter, but they did not find a trade they thought was fair value. So instead, they are keeping the former Cy Young winner, according to Jim Bowden.
The Rays have made a habit in recent years of trading their top pitchers when they get too expensive in exchange for enormous prospect hauls. Before the 2011 season, they traded Matt Garza to the Cubs for, among others, Hak-Ju Lee, who is now one of the top shortstop prospects in baseball, and Chris Archer, who solidified a spot in the Rays rotation last season and placed third in rookie of the year voting. Before the 2013 season, they traded James Shields and Wade Davis to the Royals for a package including Wil Myers, who won the rookie of the year last year.
Most everyone anticipated the same thing to happen to David Price. You can criticize the Rays for not being able to sign their homegrown stars to lucrative long-term deals (Evan Longoria excepted), but you have to admire their ruthless efficiency. Price has been a major part of the Rays emergence as one of the top teams in the AL, but it was his time. Sunrise, sunset.
But this time, Andrew Friedman and the Rays front office were unable to find the deal they wanted. So, in a grave misfortune, they will have to keep their ace and pay him $14 million for 2014. Woe are the Rays, who will probably make the postseason yet again. Luckily for them, Price will not be a free agent until after the 2015 season, so they still have plenty of time to trade him.
The recent bad news regarding Jeremy Hellickson's elbow could have been a mitigating factor. Hellickson will likely not be back on the mound until mid-May at the earliest after surgery to remove loose bodies in his pitching elbow. It's probably not the only reason the Rays are keeping Price, but it probably factored into the final decision.