When David Price and the Rays avoided arbitration and settled on a $14M contract for the 2014 season, the team set up a conference call so reporters could get a fresh take from the former Cy Young winner.
David Price spoke candidly, and he said 'all the right things' -- complimenting the Rays organization, saying "I want to be a part of it," and "we're going to have a really good season this year."
He also sounded somewhat exasperated.
On David Price and $14M
Danny provides perspective on David Price's $14M contract and $18M of salary commitments.
David Price is a cheerful guy, but this was an even-keel conversation. I remember thinking, "you say you're excited, are you really excited?" The tone of voice, of course, holds much of the meaning. But even without audio, I think this comment on the increasing likelihood he will remain in Tampa Bay was most telling:
"The chances continue to get greater, I guess, as the days go by so I'm kind of just sitting back watching like I have all off-season."
What kind of helplessness would you feel if you knew your employer at any given moment was going to move you to a new city, not of your choosing? Imagine you were close, maybe even best friends, with several of your co-workers. That you had an ingrained camaraderie and that you were considered a leader in the organization. And all you could do was sit there.
Would you be paranoid? Would you brush it off? Could you brush it off?
The Rays do their best to avoid arbitration with their players for a very specific reason: to leave camp for a hearing before a judge interrupts spring training preparations and is a distraction for the player. It is for a similar reasonthat I believe the Rays will not be looking to trade Price after a certain point in time. To give him peace of mind.
The most definite date that Price might get comfortable is Feb. 14, two weeks from today and the reporting date for pitchers and catchers. He said so himself:
I think if I'm in camp I would be on the team because that would stink if I would be a part of the team in spring training and everybody thinks I'd be there along with them and then I get traded a couple days into spring or something like that.
I think that would be much tougher to take, as opposed to something happening before Spring...
But what he said next may have showed the team's hand. Let's say Price asked Andrew Friedman for peace of mind, and requested a date that he would know he was a Rays player for the coming season.
...but I think if it was, probably, February 1st, [that] would be a time period that, I would think, would kind of let me know that I would be here. I think it'd be a week after Tanaka signs.
This is the week after Tanaka signed. Tomorrow is February first.
It seems at this point has been that David Price will remain in a Rays uniform, which is a sentiment reinforced by the passing of time, or by what R.J. Anderson might call the ticking of a clock.
How confident can we be that Price will stay?
Yesterday we heard rumors that the Rays are interested in A.J. Burnett. Is that just Andrew Friedman doing his due diligence, or is Burnett the alternative should Price be traded? Why can't it be both?
An off-season of ambiguity is coming to a close. We don't know what the front office is up to, other than having slow -- drawn out -- methodical -- exacting conversations. If the Alex Torres trade took three months and 30 phone calls, how long would it take Friedman to trade his ace? The answer is years -- and as my father is prone to say, the window is closing.
Fourteen days remain until we can have near total confidence that David Price will remain in Tampa Bay; in the mean time, it's less than 24 hours until it's February first, when we can all get a bit more comfortable.
You can hear a portion of that conference call, including David Price's thoughts on the 2014 Rays and the expectancy of a trade, in this video:
Does he sound like a man at ease to you?