PORT CHARLOTTE - Rays pitcher David Price became the first Rays player to win the Cy Young Award last season in the American League. However, he will make just over $10 million this season, which begs the question: how long can the Rays keep him?
With great reward comes great responsibility -- rewards both monetary, and material for Price. “I already have mentally moved forward…I don’t want any fans to stop calling me ‘Cy’. That’s the one thing that I told everybody that I don’t care, they can call me that whenever they want.”
Price hardly had a chance to enjoy winning the Cy Young, and his new contract, before talk in baseball focused on how quickly the Rays would trade him for maximum return. But he isn't thinking about that. He is now one of the elder statesmen on the Rays with hardware to prove it.
“He’s what…26? Even though he’s got Cy (Young) in his bedroom now, I don’t want him to change anything. I just want him to be himself. He’ll continue to grow…that’s the thing about growth – you can’t force it. You can’t force leadership,” says manager Joe Maddon.
Price has 3 seasons under the Rays control before free agency, but his salary the next few years will be well above the $10 million this season, and the Rays may opt for the younger, cheaper guys -- guys that Price is already helping become better players. “Everybody knows that if they have any questions about anything, they can ask anybody. That’s why we have the success that we do have. Nobody’s scared to ask questions….we’re friends here,” says Price.
In order to help Price, and the team as a whole, young guys like Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Moore, and Alex Cobb have to step up their game…or maybe not. “I don’t like that phrase,” says Maddon. “I don’t want them to step up, I want them to naturally mature. And then take the innings that they think they can accept.”
Price is 61-31 in his Major League career, and he has been an All-Star for the past three seasons. Barring injury, he will most likely be the Rays opening day pitcher.