MINNEAPOLIS — The way the question was presented Monday during the All-Star car wash that players cycle through with the media was whether David Price, the Tampa Bay ace, would like to a join a team that is winning now or one that he could stay with for years of winning.
He said he had two teams in mind, but declined to say much about them. But he did offer a surprise team that intrigued him.
The last-place Chicago Cubs, who haven’t won a World Series since 1908 are deep into a much-publicized rebuilding spree.
“Winning absolutely is something you want to do,” Price said. “Being a part of something special is also something you want to do. You can take that to a first-place team. You could take that all the way to a last-place team like the Cubs. With the talent they have coming up they could be a very special team in a few years as well. That would probably be the coolest city to win a championship in. They haven’t done it in I’m not sure how long. To do that there that would be the coolest city to win a championship in right now.”
Price, 28, is 9-7 with a 3.23 ERA in 20 starts for the Rays, who aren’t yet out of it in the turbulent American League East.
The lefty has said that he’s never pitched this well, this consistently before in his career, and he’s only two seasons removed from winning the American League Cy Young Award. But he has one more year before free agency and he’s rapidly pricing himself out of the Tampa Bay model. He said his side has not had extension talks with the Rays.
He can see what’s coming — a trade now, or a trade later.
“In order for Tampa to continue the amount of success we’ve had over the last five or six years, this is the way they operate and I understand that,” Price said. “As much as I would love to stay there and continue to be competitive, I don’t know if that’s a possibility.”
The Cardinals have been one of the many teams to scout Price this season, and the club has discussed internally the potential for adding a top-flight starting pitcher before the trade deadline. The Cardinals are one of the few teams with the young players available to pull off a trade — though they may not have the palate for that expense.
The Cardinals and Rays have a similar way of measuring value.
Agent Scott Boras told a gathering of the media that he doesn’t see the makings of a deal for Price during the season because the young talent that would be needed. He described how the only guarantee a team would have with Price is the compensation draft pick if he signed with another team after the 2015 season. Is trading three high-end prospects for a season and a half of Price and a draft pick out of high school worth the cost?
Price is arbitration eligible and his salary will skyrocket for 2015.
The lefty was asked if he got a chance to choose where he would go — if the Rays, hypothetically — involved him in the conversation, what kind of traits would he look for.
“I would probably have a couple teams I wouldn’t mind going to,” Price said. “I feel like I should probably keep those teams to myself. They all play baseball.”