ST. PETERSBURG -- Wednesday night was not the time to talk about the future, particularly one that could involve David Price pitching in a uniform other than the Tampa Bay No. 14 he donned during a 2012 American League Cy Young Award campaign. But the idea that a player as gifted -- and soon to be expensive -- as Price may not be long for the low-payroll Rays still hung over the proceedings.
For all the talk about Price becoming a more complete pitcher over the past few years, he's also developed a greater understanding of the business side of baseball. Price was teammates with Matt Garza when the right-hander was traded to the Cubs, and Rays starter James Shields is still a hot topic of trade rumors. Recently, Price became an equally common name in those discussions.
"I do love it here. That's part of it. It does stink," Price said. "I don't really know what to say. I don't know how you would fix it. If that time comes, it'd be a sad day."
Price is projected to make $9.5 million next season, according to MLBTradeRumors.com. That would make him the second-highest-paid player on the team, behind only Shields, and he'll get raises in arbitration each year until he becomes a free agent in 2016. As Price's salary continues to increase, it becomes harder to imagine the Rays dedicating that much of their payroll to one player.
But Price has learned to handle those rumors, having watched Shields and B.J. Upton do so each of the past two years, and he plans to enjoy however long he has left in Tampa Bay. Rays manager Joe Maddon acknowledged the possibility that a trading partner could blow Tampa Bay away with an offer for any of its pitchers, but he still expects to have all of them with the team come Spring Training.
"It's part of the business. A lot of fans don't understand what goes on in the business side of baseball," Price said. "That's something I didn't understand. I didn't understand that when I was drafted in 2007. I didn't understand it in 2008. I probably didn't understand it in 2009. I feel like probably the last two, three years since I've been in the big leagues, kind of feeling out how things work, what all goes on behind the scenes, what all's being talked about, what could happen here and there and stuff like that. That's stuff that I didn't know of."