The Tampa Bay Rays come into the 2014 season as one of the favorites to make a run at a championship. Las Vegas gives the Rays 12-1 odds to win the World Series, which are the fourth best odds in all of MLB. They may not stay there for long, however, as the window for Tampa to win it all could be closing soon.
David Price will be a free agent in two years, and let’s face it — he will not be pitching his home games in St. Pete much longer. Price, 28, is looking to break the bank soon, and Tampa can barely afford his current salary of $14 million. Price could get a contract close to $200 million in free agency, which is why the Rays were very active in trade talks with teams about moving the 2012 AL Cy Young winner. The Rays were never able to find a suitable deal for Price and elected to give it one last try.
Price was drafted No. 1 overall by the Rays in the 2007 draft out of Vanderbilt. The Rays never were able to lock him up long-term when he first got to the big leagues which is probably why his games at Tropicana Field appears to be numbered.
The Rays have a championship team right now with Price. It makes sense for GM Andrew Friedman to hold onto his star pitcher for one more year in hopes of getting back to a World Series. The Rays haven’t been to a World Series since Price’s rookie year despite getting to the playoffs nearly every year.
It seems near a lock that Tampa will trade Price after the 2014 season. That’s just how they operate. They did the same thing with pitchers like Matt Garza, James Shields, Edwin Jackson and Scott Kazmir. The Rays just can’t afford these pitchers once they get close to free agency. For the most part this plan has worked as the team has acquired young players like Wil Myers, Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi. All three expect to have big roles this year.
Obviously Tampa would take a major step back without Price even if they get young pieces back, which is why they have to win now.
The Rays’ rotation and bullpen look ready to go, so if Joe Maddon can just get enough situational hitting the team should be very good. If the Rays supporting cast like James Loney and Desmond Jennings hit, they should be right there once again for a chance to get to the World Series.