Extension Candidate: David Price

Last year 25-year-old lefty David Price established himself as one of the best pitchers in baseball, finishing second in the American League Cy Young voting.  The Rays have shown a willingness to guarantee money to a young player seeking long-term security, but Price's situation is not similar to that of James ShieldsEvan Longoria, Wade Davis, or Ben Zobrist.  Let's take a look.

Price represents one of the game's rare commodities, an ace starting pitcher.  He's better than Shields or Davis.  Stardom was expected for Price when the Rays drafted him first overall in 2007.  Stardom was expected for Longoria as well, but the Rays managed to lock up their third baseman a few weeks into his big league career.  I wouldn't be surprised if the Rays tried that with Price too.

At this stage Price is only one season away from arbitration eligibility, and anything resembling his 2010 campaign will result in a big 2012 salary.  Regarding an extension, Price told Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times, "If it's realistic, absolutely, that is something I would definitely do," going on to praise his team. 

As Topkin notes, Tim Lincecum and Cole Hamels are a couple of good comparables.  All three are Super Two players, meaning they are arbitration eligible four times.  Here's how they stack up heading into arbitration, adding in Price's ZiPS projection for 2011.

  • Lincecum: 40 wins, 2.90 ERA, 598 2/3 innings, 676 strikeouts (10.2 K/9), two Cy Young awards, two All-Star appearances, no postseason experience
  • Hamels: 38 wins, 3.43 ERA, 543 innings, 518 strikeouts (8.6 K/9), a sixth-place Cy Young finish, one All-Star appearance, 2.18 ERA and four wins in six postseason starts, NLCS and World Series MVP awards
  • Price: 45 wins, 3.37 ERA, 552 2/3 innings, 482 strikeouts (7.8 K/9), a second place Cy Young finish, one All-Star appearance, 3.93 ERA and one win in 18 1/3 postseason innings

If Price does what ZiPS predicts for 2011 - a 3.48 ERA in 201 2/3 innings – he could make another All-Star team and get Cy Young votes again.  And of course he could add to his postseason numbers.

Even without the postseason experience at the time, Lincecum is the best of the group.  Had he settled at the midpoint with the Giants instead of signing a two-year deal, he would have been paid $10.5MM in his first arbitration year, which would have been a record for any player.  Hamels didn't get to the point of exchanging figures, but his three-year deal paid a discounted salary of $4.35MM in the first year.  Though not Super Twos, Felix Hernandez and Justin Verlander are other good points of reference, with first-year arbitration salaries of $3.8MM and $3.675MM respectively.

Though he's a closer, Jonathan Papelbon's first-year arbitration award of $6.25MM – the current record for a pitcher - is something Price's agent Bo McKinnis could attempt to surpass.  That'd essentially be half of the money guaranteed to Wade Davis, so you can see how the two Rays pitchers are not in the same boat.  Price has the advantage of operating from what is technically regarded as a $2MM salary for 2011, factoring in his signing bonus.  He could potentially earn $40MM+ for his four arbitration years, if he's willing to forgo long-term security.

Unlike the Giants and Phillies, the Rays may be unwilling to do a multiyear deal with Price that does not buy out all arbitration years and some free agent seasons.  They could use Felix and Verlander's contracts as models, adjusting for the fact that Price is a Super Two.  A fair price might be $35MM for the four arbitration years and $20MM a year for three free agent seasons, coming to a total of $95MM over seven years.  Such a contract would be unprecedented, however, and not in the way that the Rays have embraced previously.  Plus it's difficult to picture a $20MM pitcher on the Rays, even if their payroll is higher by 2016. 

Would Price allow for a club option or three?  Would he accept $30MM for his four arbitration years, allowing the Rays savings in the near future and letting them worry about the big free agent salaries later?  Such concessions might be necessary to find common ground.  Or, perhaps the best route would be a Lincecum or Hamels-style extension, where Price takes security for two or three years while maintaining flexibility for his last one or two arbitration years, and the Rays save several million bucks but don't claim any free agent seasons.

38 Responses to Extension Candidate: David Price Leave a Reply

  1. If the Rays can get a new stadium they will be able to afford both Price and Longoria. If they don’t then they have to choose which player they want to keep.

    • AmericanMovieFan 4 years ago

      Longoria is affordable by any baseball standard. If a team can’t afford Longoria, then they can’t afford their electricity bill. That is the most team friendly contract in baseball.

      As for Price, he’s going to make a ton of money one way or another and the question is if the Rays want to pay market rate for some of his FA years (which would require at least $18MM a year) or if they’re willing to sign him short term to something between what he’d get year to year (probably around $55MM) and what they can afford ($40MM), with the hope of increasing revenue and contending, both of which would bode well for keeping Price a Ray beyond his arbitration years.

      I think they’ll go to the Lincecum route and lock him for two years at a very fair, but somewhat affordable rate. $23MM over 2 years seems exactly comparable and on target. Beyond that, the man deserves what he deserves and if the Rays can’t afford it, they shouldn’t shortchange the guy.

      • I wasn’t talking about affording Longoria right now, i’m talking about when his deal runs out and Price’s team control runs out. They should be able to resign one of the 2 for sure with a possibility of keeping them both with the revenue they would generate with a new stadium.

      • YanksFanSince78 4 years ago

        You have to remember. The Rays haven’t paid a player more than $10 mil ever and Longo’s deals go up to $11 mil and $11.5mil in 2015 and 2016.

        In addition, they have to deal with raises to other players by that time. Can they afford to pay $18 to $20 mil between Longo and Davis in 2015-2016 and keep Price and others like Hellickson, Neimann, Jennings and etc.

        • How much did Carl Crawford make last year? He didn’t make more then 10 million? (This is a actual question, I really don’t know) I know the Rays gave Kazmir a pretty huge deal and he’s making what 14 million this year. The only reason they traded him was because he wasn’t the pitcher he used to be and they didn’t think he would ever return to form. If Longo were to be consistent and put up huge numbers the Rays would have no problem paying big bucks to this guy. So if your implying that the Rays wouldn’t pay Longo and trade him before his $11 million payday your insane.

          • YanksFanSince78 4 years ago

            Crawford and Pena each maxed out at $10 mil last year. Kazmir made $6 mil in 2009 but was traded half way thru the season and that was the max he ever earned with them. The contract he signed with the Rays paid him $8 mil in 2010, and will pay him $12 mil in 2011 with a $13.5 option for 2012. There’s no $14 mil salary. Either way, it’s doubtful they would’ve kept him even if he were pitching well.

            I didn’t imply, at all, that they were going to trade Longo. What I did say was that given their history could they afford to KEEP Longo and Davis together in 2015 and 2016 when they both will be earning near $20 mil AND afford to pay Price, Neiman, Hellickson, Jennings and others when they start to become expensive.

            Seeing as how Longo and Davis are their biggest commitments and this forus is discussing an extension for Price, I think that’s an arguement worth discussing.

    • FunkyTime 4 years ago

      Wouldn’t that still require fans to actually attend the games?

      • Fans would attend the games in Florida if it was an outdoor stadium. Why would you wanna watch a ballgame indoors in Florida?

        • LifeLongYankeeFan 4 years ago

          Because it rains alot in Florida lol.

          • YanksFanSince78 4 years ago

            OH and…ummm…….Hurricane season? And ridiculous 98 degree weather with humidity.

        • RahZid 4 years ago

          It’s very hot in the summer (the majority of games). Between the heat and the T-storms, it isn’t hard to see why it’s indoors. I do think a retractable roof would be awesome in Florida though.

        • AceGunderson 4 years ago

          Haha…I used to live in FL and went to some Rays games. There’s no way in the world I’d want to sit through 3+ hours in Florida heat/humidity from pretty much May to September. I absolutely prefer outdoor sports whenever possible, but sometimes as a fan, comfort has to be a factor as well in getting me to the ballpark.

          And oh, not to mention, it rains pretty much at some point every day in Florida during the summer (“sun showers”).

  2. tp705 4 years ago

    The post says Lincecum has no postseason experience. Pretty sure he got quite a bit last year…

    • At the time he signed the extension he had no post season experience… reading is hard… “Even without the postseason experience at the time, Lincecum is the best of the group”

      By the time Price signs an extension or goes to arb. he will have had post season experience.

      • tp705 4 years ago

        Actually, writing must be hard, since the tense of the statement of no postseason experience is present, and the qualifier that you quoted above comes several sentences later. Since I don’t waste my time reading people who either can’t write or include inaccurate information, I stopped reading at that point. Congrats, your writing sucks.

        • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

          you seem like a fun guy to be around

        • atleast he can read, I’d rather be able to read than to write.

        • RahZid 4 years ago

          No… it’s a reading comprehension issue. Those numbers were clearly given at the time the deal was signed. The deal was signed prior to his playoff experience, therefor the phrase “No playoff experience” was used.

          Why would anyone use stats after the deal in question was signed to try to make comparisons for a new deal?

      • JacksTigers 4 years ago

        Thats a little harsh.

  3. Added a note about how Price is technically coming from a $2MM+ 2011 salary, which will help him compared to someone like Kershaw in setting a first-time arb record for pitchers.

    • AmericanMovieFan 4 years ago

      Looks like he was smart to sign that initial deal.

    • RahZid 4 years ago

      what happens to that initial deal? Next year should still be covered under it according to Cot’s. Is it ripped up because he’s arb eligible? If so, I’d certainly want some bonus money back if I were the Rays.

      Upon another quick look at Cot’s, Price actually has a salary of $1.25M this year, and one of his 6 annual installments of his $5.6M signing bonus. So it’s about $2.1M total this year, although I believe the arb award would work off of his salary of $1.25M.

      Edit: Tim, I just actually read the comment you included. I still disagree about a signing bonus being factored in for arb awards. By your logic, should all highly regarded prospects have their initial signing bonus factored into their first arb hearing, or is this a special case because it was a major league deal?

  4. Hamels is a very good comparison, but if Price tries to sell himself as on par with Lincecum, the arbitrator will laugh him right out of the room.

    • Even 75% of Lincecum would be a record.

    • YanksFanSince78 4 years ago

      It’s a bad comparison simply because Price has only had two years under his belt. His 2010 campaign was just as good as Tim’s though.

      • I assume you mean Lincecum’s second season, 2008?

        Price, 2010: 2.72 ERA, 3.42 FIP, 3.83 xFIP, 3.27 tERA, 4.3 WAR
        Lincecum, 2008: 2.62 ERA, 2.62 FIP, 3.12 xFIP, 2.96 tERA, 7.5 WAR

        I know xFIP doesn’t hold much sway in arb hearings, but I don’t think anyone would call Price’s season as good as Lincecum’s.

        • JacksTigers 4 years ago

          Those numbers are not as comparible as you made them out to sound.

  5. Signing a SP to a 6 year deal sounds like lunacy to me even if this weren’t the Rays we were talking about. I just don’t see how getting him locked in for three FA years at $20M per could possibly be worth the risk involved. Buying out the arb years seems like the way to go here.

    • It was for the Mariners and Tigers…if a team feels like there are only 10 Price types in the game and that salary inflation will continue then it can make sense. Not for the Rays of course.

      • Amish_willy 4 years ago

        Bet the Rays wish they would have got a long-term deal knocked out prior to his fantastic ’10 season. That said, guaranteeing him 30-40m now with FA options along the lines of 15, 18 & 20m annually would seem like a good compromise for both. Price wouldn’t be leaving a ton of money on the table during those first three FA years, but of course would delay his chance at free agency even further. Alot could go wrong in the next 4 years so getting the 30-40m guaranteed now would be a nice security for Price. Signing him to a long-term deal with the Rays contract perks were accustomed to then dealing him in 3 or so years just prior to him making the big money is something I could see playing out.

        At that time the Rays could be headed in the rotation by Hellickson/Davis/Moore – which could easily be one of the games best. When you factor in the return from the likes of Price/Shields/Niemann – it’s not hard to envision a very dominant and cheap rotation a couple of years down the road.

        Who knows how eager Price will be to A) delaying his date with free agency and B) taking options for his first several free agent years. Worst case for them they either go year-to-year or lock him up for only his arb years. In which they could keep him for the next three years and still being able to get a huge haul for him with two years of team control left. Not that he wouldn’t bring back a good deal even if it was just for one year of control. The big boys would love the exclusive opportunity of being able to lock him up prior to free agency, not to mention the boost he’d provide in that one year.

  6. joeybw 4 years ago

    I don’t see the Rays even considering anything higher than 6 years/72 million.

    I mean 20 million a year? If we did things like that, Crawford wouldn’t be in Boston.

    • Amish_willy 4 years ago

      Not a huge Rays follower… What’s the biggest guaranteed deal they’ve given out in the past 10 years? Think Kazmir got 28m, any higher?? I’d say the only way the Rays give him that kind of deal (6/72m) is if that figure includes several non-guaranteed pricey years.

      • joeybw 4 years ago

        Pena got like 30 million, I think Crawford got around 40. Thats about as high as this team goes, good thing they have such a good farm system.

  7. RahZid 4 years ago

    The big question is how long will the Rays be able to hold onto a $10+M a year pitcher. Sadly, I could see Price being shipped to the NL after maybe 2 more seasons in Tampa, unless Price signs a very team friendly deal. The closest they have come to a $10M pitcher was Soriano last year at $7.25M. Before that, they had Kazmir at $6M. They of course traded him away, but in hindsight that may have had more to do with what they saw from him and less to do with the money.

  8. I know they are both under control for quite a while, i’m just saying if they want to keep them after Longoria’s current deal runs out and David Price’s team control runs out. They will have a shot at keep 1 in a uniform for the rest of their career, otherwise if they get a new stadium they would have a shot at keeping them both in Rays uni’s for they’re careers.

  9. RahZid 4 years ago

    That makes a lot more sense, although I can’t see the Rays with a $20M/year player in their current stadium. Unless of course they start drawing larger crowds in the next couple of years. Without a boost in revenue, both players may end up leaving similar to the Peavy/AGon situation in San Diego.

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