Like other Floridian sports teams, the Tampa Bay Rays have a tangible fan base in the Cayman Islands. Undoubtedly, many supporters here were not thrilled with the trade of David Price.
On one hand, the deal makes sense as Tampa’s playoff hopes are slim to none with a double digit deficit in the American League East standings and the Rays trailing nearly a dozen teams in the AL Wildcard race. However, the left-handed ace remains in the prime of his career and his season numbers thus far are good: a 3.21 Earned Runs Average, an 11-8 record and 205 strikeouts.
Now Price is suiting up alongside Miguel Cabrera and the Detroit Tigers, thanks to the recent three-team deal. One of the key figures behind the move is Rays owner Stuart Sternberg, who said he has gained public support for the decision.
“It wasn’t easy for us, and a number of people said ‘I understand why you had to do the deal you had to do, and we’re behind you,’” Sternberg said. “I think people got that and understood that we’re still in it to win it. It really was the classic one-eye-on-the-present, one-eye-on-the-future kind of deal.”
For Sternberg, moves involving the departure of star players are almost compulsory for small-market franchises to stay competitive. Price, for instance, can be a free agent after next season and could command a bigger contract than Tampa Bay would be able to give. At the moment, he is making $14 million this year and his contract set to expire in 2015.
Up to this point in his six-year career, Price, 28, had been one of the faces of the Rays franchise. He was part of Tampa Bay’s World Series team in 2008, made four all-star teams and won the 2012 AL Cy Young Award. In short, he had been every bit the ace the squad expected when he was the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2007.