The Tampa Bay Rays and their ace David Price have not been themselves so far in the 2014 season. Only one full year removed from his 2012 Cy Young winning campaign, Price has not recorded a win since May 13, and the Rays are dead last in the AL East after a Wild Card berth in 2013. Price has had his fair share of strong outings since last picking up a win, but the run support has not been there. His 2014 ERA of 3.97 is uncharacteristically higher than his career mark of 3.26.
Today, Price was bested by the Seattle Mariners and their starter Erasmo Ramirez, who has not been anything to write home about this season with a record of 1-4 and a 6.82 ERA heading into today’s action. Ramirez labored through 4.2 innings, frequently getting behind in counts, throwing wild pitches and walking five batters. Mariners pitching coach Rick Waits made four separate trips out to the mound to tend to Ramirez before manager Lloyd McClendon left the dugout with two outs in the bottom of the fifth to yank his starter.
Meanwhile Price, aside from a rough third inning where Robinson Cano had a two-RBI single, recorded double-digit strikeouts in a strong appearance — his third quality start in as many outings. The point here is that the Mariners won a game with a starting pitcher who should probably be in the minors, and the Rays lost a game with one of the premier lefties in all of MLB on the mound for them.
The season is frantically escaping the Rays and manager Joe Maddon. For Florida, a state that is considered to be the Mecca of retired people in America, you would think one of their baseball clubs hosting an afternoon game on a Monday would draw a decent attendance. Tampa Bay ranks second-to-last in average attendance per game, ahead of only the Cleveland Indians. The atmosphere at Tropicana Field was abysmal once more today, and the Rays would be wise to trade their star pitcher for some prospects and future aspirations. Price is 28 and his current contract expires after the 2015 season, so it is unlikely the Rays will be contenders again during that stretch of time. The Rays should move Price before his morale drops any further and his performance potentially also starts to take a hit, further decreasing his market value.
Some possible landing spots for Price would be with AL East rivals the Toronto Blue Jays or Baltimore Orioles, who could both really use a top tier pitcher to complement the arms already in their rotation. It’s unlikely Rays management will take this route, though, and will look to deal him outside the division to a team like the Atlanta Braves or Oakland Athletics.