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Friedman discusses Price deal, and potential for long-term

3

January

Rays executive VP Andrew Friedman said it's always helpful for a team to get as much of their "heavy lifting" done earlier in the offseason.

And Tampa Bay did just that by signing one of it's biggest stars, Cy Young winning left-hander David Price, to a one-year, $10.1125 million deal Wednesday to avoid arbitration.

While the deadline to exchange figures is Jan. 18, Friedman said both sides were open to an earlier agreement. Price will be the team's highest-paid player next season.

"The spirit of this deal is to do something that was fair for both sides," Friedman said Thursday. "And both sides genuinely wanted to get a deal done and in David's mind, he was very open to doing this earlier than the deadline."

Price was expected to more than double the $4.35 million he made last year, when he went 20-5 with a league-leading 2.56 ERA to win the American League Cy Young.

But with Price's price going up, it would seem less likely for the Rays can sign him to a long-term deal, especially with their payroll situation. Price is a free agent after the 2015 season.

"It's a difficult thing to answer without all of the variables - term, money, all those things," Friedman said. "It's a difficult question to answer on any specific player. We could certainly add another larger contract, but... it puts a lot more pressure on our remaining funds, which would be much smaller to fill out 23 guys around (Evan) Longoria and whoever that contract is (for), to be able to win. Because, at the end of the day, that's what motivates us, is winning, and having a competitive team that we can sustain. So it's not an easy thing to answer in a vacuum."

The Rays still have several remaining arbitration-eligible players, including OF Matt Joyce, OF Sam Fuld, RHP Jeff Niemann and INF Ryan Roberts. Friedman said it's their hope and expectation to resolve remaining arb cases before deadline, but it's "hard to handicap" the chances.

Tampa Bay's offseason needs are not completely filled yet, as it's looking for another bat or two and some bullpen help. But Friedman said "I wouldn't say anything is close."

-- JOE SMITH

joesmith@tampabay.com

 

 

 

[Last modified: Thursday, January 3, 2013 2:14pm]

    

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