The Detroit Tigers have been very busy this off-season and when not busy they have been steeped in rumors galore.
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Most of those rumors have had to do with Max Scherzer and the possibility of coming back to Detroit, but one name that hasn’t been mentioned much is David Price. This is because not much has happened on the Price front.
According to Jon Morosi of Fox Sports, the team and the left handed starter have not engaged in any extension talks during the off-season and that the Tigers may be viewing Price more of a trade candidate, which could free up potential future money for Scherzer.
Whatever Scherzer’s demand are, (reportedly anywhere from $180 to $216 million) if he were to sign and the Tigers didn’t deal Price before the season, it would make for a whopper of a payroll in 2015, especially for the starters. Price, due one more year of eligibility before unrestricted free agency prior to the 2016 season, figures to command more than $20 million for his one-year arbitration salary, the highest of any arbitration-eligible player in baseball this season.
If this unlikely scenario of a 2015 starting rotation featuring Justin Verlander, Anibal Sanchez, Shane Greene, Scherzer and Price becomes reality, it pretty much signals that newcomer Alfredo Simon would move to the bullpen (probably the best place for him anyway).
It’s interesting to see that the Tigers have not approached Price about a long-term deal. They always attempt to lockup their good players before they hit free agency. They signed Miguel Cabrera two years before his free agency last spring, signed Justin Verlander one year before the end of his contract two springs ago, and wrangled Victor Martinez back into the fold before he could visit other teams this fall. They also, of course, made a $144 million offer to Max to avoid the current merry-go-round. By not going hard after Price at this time shows that perhaps the team and/or the player do not wish to extend the relationship past the contract.
In October Price said that he was not “comfortable” at first following the trade and that he wished the trade hadn’t happened. He sweetened those comments by saying he eventually meshed with his new teammates, surroundings and fan base. Perhaps a full off-season with Detroit will make him feel more like a Tiger, but just reading between the lines and on-field body language, it doesn’t really feel like Price feels this is a long-term stop for him.
The Tigers may also feel this and understand that had better get something for him while they can. You could believe Price won’t get a ton back in exchange because of his looming free agency, but then again he is a Cy Young winning lefthander. Contract year or not, those are two very desirable resume bullet points.