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The Tampa Bay Rays own the second-worst mark in the American League, and the team’s stock is trending down.
Falling out of contention inevitably brings the discussion of whether the Rays will finally deal impending free-agent starting pitcher David Price.
FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi pointed out it’s the Rays’ worst start since 2007, and despite the team’s propensity to rally in the second half of seasons, they may have no choice but to trade away its ace, Price, to replenish the farm system.
But for the first time in years, it’s time to ask serious questions about the near- to mid-term outlook of a model organization. Even in 2011, when they authored a comeback for the ages to overtake the Boston Red Sox on the season’s final day, the Rays led the AL East with a 23-15 record at the 38-game mark. Now they’re the second-worst team in the AL at 16-22 — ahead of only the Houston Astros. Barring a dramatic recovery, Rays officials may have little choice but to trade ace David Price and replenish a farm system that isn’t as prospect-rich as it once was.
Price, 28, is set to make $14 million this season. Next year he’s eligible for arbitration and is a free agent after the 2016 season. Of course, the Rays are a franchise notorious for being cash-strapped, and there’s little chance the team can afford to meet Price’s salary demands.
In a similar situation a few years ago, Tampa traded ace right-hander James Shields two years before he hit the free-agent market. That means Price should’ve been dealt last offseason.
If and when Price becomes available, he very well could be the most coveted commodity on the trade market, increasing his value and the return the Rays could receive for him.
The Rays may opt to stay put and try to enjoy a second-half surge. Cobb and Hellickson are both expected to return by the end of the month. But if they fall deeper out of contention midway through the summer, general manager Andrew Friedman’s phone will be ringing off the hook.
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