By Ashley Dunkak
CBS DETROIT – In the wake of the seven-year, $210 million deal Max Scherzer just inked with the Washington Nationals, it might seem crazy for David Price to even consider signing a long-term deal with the Detroit Tigers instead of opting for free agency after the 2015 season.READ MORE: Winning Lotto 47 Ticket Worth $1.43 Million Sold In Warren
Price would consider a contract extension with Detroit, he said Thursday, but he acknowledged that the lure of free agency is strong – and not just because of the money.
“More or less to being able to pick where you play,” Price said. “It’s kind of like a video game; you create your player and you’re like, ‘All right, I’m going to play for this team.’ That’s always enticing. I guess I’m about a week short of six years right now, so at the end of the year I’ll almost have seven, and I guess that’s 32, 33 starts away from being able to pick where you play.
“If I got to that point, this would definitely be a place that I could pick to play,” Price continued. “If I didn’t get to that point, I would still be happy. That’s what I want to be. I want to be happy. The money issue is – that’s not the issue. That’s really not. I want to be happy, I want to be comfortable, and using those last two months and then using spring training as well to even get more comfortable here can only be good things.”
For now, Price has not been engaged with the team in any talks about his future. His agent would be one the conversing with the team, Price explained. The pitcher maintained that he does not know whether such negotiations are underway or not. If talks were ongoing, Price said his agent would not update him daily on the progress, and Price would not check in. As an example of his detachment from that process, he noted how he got news that his agent and the team had agreed on a record one-year deal of $19.75 million to avoid arbitration.
“The day we figured out the arbitration thing, I didn’t even know that that was the day,” Price said. “I was actually about to tee off on the golf course, my agent called me and told me, and it completely caught me by surprise because I didn’t know that was the day it was going down. I just want to play baseball.”
Since he is rather removed from the negotiation process, Price said he did not think it would bother him if work on a long-term deal continued into the regular season.
“I don’t think that it would affect me a whole lot,” Price said. “Getting those amounts of money thrown in your direction, it’s got to make you feel good. It’s got to make you smile. It can’t be a negative thing. It’s got to be a positive thing. I guess it’s very flattering.”
Price came to the Tigers at the trade deadline last season, and being thrown into a new clubhouse in the middle of the year did not make for a seamless transition. Price insisted, however, that he liked the new environment just fine but simply took some time to adjust and get comfortable.
“I just said that this was different,” Price said. “I think that kind of got taken as I didn’t like it. Moving to a different city, having different teammates, you’re now teammates with guys you’ve been competing against for the last six, seven years. That is a different feeling to cheer for somebody that three weeks ago I was trying to beat here in Detroit. Everything is a lot more comfortable now, it’s a lot better setting, and I’m looking forward to it.”
Price said he anticipates spring training as a way to further enhance his comfort level with his teammates and with the organization as a whole.
“It’s going to help a lot, not just being around all the big-league guys, getting to know the minor-league guys, the guys that are going to be coming up – if I did sign an extension here – the guys that are going to be coming up in a year or two years, getting to know those guys,” Price said. “Using those four, five, six weeks, just sitting in the dugout, hanging out in the clubhouse, doing all the little things they do like the hotshot contest or the pop-a-shot, just having all the little team events, that’s always neat, and that will be fun. I enjoy stuff like that.”READ MORE: Meijer Offering Free Delivery On Orders $35 And More
While Price’s free agency may well be the biggest storyline of next offseason, one his close friends, starting pitcher James Shields, has been one of the biggest storylines of this offseason.
Shields helped lead the Kansas City Royals to the World Series in 2014, and during two seasons in Kansas City he recorded an ERA of 3.18 in 455 2/3 innings over 68 starts.
The Tigers have reportedly spoken with Shields’ agent, and though general manager Dave Dombrowski has said repeatedly that he likes the rotation as it is now, there has been much discussion in the media of why Shields would make sense in Detroit.
If the Tigers did bring him in, Price would be little short of thrilled.
“That would be exciting,” Price said. “These guys would enjoy having him around. It’s not just me, I promise you that. I might be the most excited guy in the clubhouse if he did sign here, but once these guys get to know James Shields and get to be around him every day and hear the words that he says and just see his mannerisms and all that, he’d fit in just fine.”
Price and Shields both started their careers with the Tampa Bay Rays; Shields first made the big leagues in 2006, and Price came up in 2008.
“I love Shields,” Price said. “He’s been a mentor to me ever since I got called up to the big leagues. I feel like I had good work ethic before, but I didn’t have a routine, and he taught me a routine, and he’s a good guy to have in the clubhouse. He brings it every single day, not just the days that he’s pitching. He’s a workhorse. He loves the game of baseball. He cares for his teammates. He’s always got his teammates’ back. I’m a big fan.
With Shields in the midst of free agency, however, their friendship has been put on hold, Price said.
“He’s not talking to me right now,” Price said with a smile. “I’m hoping this process goes ahead and ends so we can have a phone call and talk a little bit. I kind of get that because my agent told me – because I told him, I was like, ‘Shields isn’t talking to me,’ because he asked me if I had heard anything from James, and I was like, ‘No, he’s not responding to my texts, nothing like that,’ and I get it because my agent told me, ‘You know, that’s good. This is a process that he has to go through right now,’ and he can’t take any chances.
“This is something he’s worked extremely hard for,” Price continued. “He’s put himself in a good position. He can’t take something like him telling me something and then I say something to somebody and then it starts a whole big thing, and I don’t want that for him. I wish him the best of luck throughout this process. I hope it ends quickly for him, and if we were teammates, I would like it.”
Shields has pitched in two World Series but has yet to win a ring, and Price expects the desire to win to factor into his friend’s free agency decision.MORE NEWS: Tenants Fed Up Over No Heat & Hot Water At The Sapphire Apartments, Management Responds
“That is what he’s about,” Price said. “That’s what he’s always wanted to do. He’s always talked about that whenever we were teammates: ‘We want to win a World Series.’ That’s definitely something on his bucket list. I do see him signing with somebody that has a chance to do something special, and I guess that could be the Tigers.”