FRED GOODALL, AP Sports Writer
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Now that Tampa Bay’s David Price is slated to earn the biggest single-season salary in Rays history, the three-time All-Star hopes he remains part of the budget-minded franchise’s plans for 2014.
The team announced Thursday that the 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner agreed to a $14 million, one-year deal. However, the agreement doesn’t eliminate the possibility of a trade.
“I still have the mindset moving forward that I want to be with the Rays,” said Price, who at the end of last season seemed resigned to the fact that he’d probably be dealt during the offseason.
The 28-year-old has been the subject of trade speculation after going 10-8 with a 3.33 ERA last year while earning $10,112,500. He is eligible for free agency after the 2015 season, and the Rays likely won’t be in a position to pay the type of money Price could earn on the open market.
If he’s traded, Price believes it wouldn’t be before Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka decides where to sign. Teams have until Jan. 24 to reach an agreement with Tanaka, a 25-year-old right-hander who was 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA last year for the Japan Series champion Rakuten Golden Eagles.
Price believes the Rays, who’ve made the playoffs four of the past six seasons, could have one of the best teams again in 2014.
“I want to be part of it. I think we’re going to have a really good season,” Price stressed, adding a trade after the start of spring training likely would leave a “bad taste” in the mouths of teammates who’d also like to see him remain with the Rays.
Price’s 2013 season was interrupted by his first stint on the disabled list, caused by a strained triceps. He went 9-4 with a 2.53 ERA, 102 strikeouts and just 13 walks in 18 starts after coming off the DL on July 2, spurring the Rays’ drive for a playoff berth.
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 amateur draft is 71-39 over parts of six seasons and is Tampa Bay’s career leader in ERA (3.19) and winning percentage (.645).
Price became the franchise’s first 20-game winner in 2012, when he edged Detroit’s Justin Verlander in AL Cy Young balloting. He was a 19-game winner in 2010, his first full season in the majors.
The left-hander’s salary for 2014 will account for a significant portion of a projected payroll of about $72 million. Carlos Pena earned $10.25 million in 2010, the previous season high for the Rays.
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