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Price hopeful he'll start season with Rays

Given their financial profile and the ongoing industrywide escalation in player salaries, the Rays can't afford not to consider trading ace David Price if an unexpectedly overwhelming offer came along in the next few weeks, or even months.

But given the investment in this season's team, with the 25-man payroll extended (over­extended, they say) to a franchise high in the mid $70 millions, and increasing excitement internally and throughout the market about their potential, could they really afford to deal their staff leader?

Price is certainly hoping the potential for success is part of the equation, and last week, after agreeing to an arbitration-avoiding team-record, one-year $14 million salary, he made another pitch to stay.

"I feel like we have a very good team, so hopefully we can make some kind of run," he said. "If we can have this team that we have right now on paper and everybody stays healthy and produces the type of seasons that we all can produce, I think we can do something special. … I want to be part of it."

Price, 28, spent much of what has to have been an awkward offseason at his family's Nashville-area home, hoping nothing would happen. He came back to the Tampa Bay area last week to intensify workouts, thinking wishfully aloud that he could soon exhale and assume he is staying.

His premise is that once free agent RHP Masahiro Tanaka signs this week, teams that miss out could make a last — albeit late — run at the Rays, and if that doesn't quickly lead to anything, Price could safely plan on reporting to Port Charlotte a few weeks later. He also feels that he wouldn't be traded once he gets to camp — suggesting such a deal would upset other Rays players — though team officials won't, and can't, make that assurance.

"I think it's kind of worked out well for me to be able to come back," Price said. "That's what's going on right now, and hopefully not too much changes."

MUSCLED MATT: After a disappointing and inconsistent 2013 performance, OF Matt Joyce has put on nearly 20 pounds in hopes the additional weight will lead to increased power and keep him stronger throughout the season. "I think that in itself is going to help," said Joyce, who hit 14 homers through mid June and only four after. "Everything looked great last year, but I felt a little weaker."

RAYS RUMBLINGS: Though new national TV deals will reportedly provide an additional $25 million in revenue to each team, MLB might withhold up to $10 million so the net increase is significantly less. … The annual FanFest is Feb. 22 at the Trop. … Radio guys Andy Freed and Dave Wills are signed to be back this season, as are TV guys Dewayne Staats and Brian Anderson, plus hosts/reporters Todd Kalas and Kelly Nash. … Best wishes to Don Zimmer, who turned 83 Friday and will be back with the Rays as a senior adviser for his 66th year in pro ball. … OF Wil Myers will be presented his AL rookie of the year award Saturday at the BBWAA's New York dinner. … Condolences to INF prospect Kean Wong, whose mother, Keala, died recently after a long battle with cancer. … The new batting practice/spring training jerseys will be available in team stores in early February. … Jared Sandberg, who managed last season at Class A Bowling Green, is among the candidates for the vacant Double-A Montgomery job. … Chris Westmoreland was promoted to director of team travel and clubhouse operations, with Jose Fernandez moving up to home clubhouse manager and Ryan Denlinger as the assistant. … OF Kevin Kiermaier and LHPs C.J. Riefenhauser and Enny Romero attended MLB's rookie career development program in Virginia. … Price's $14 million contract is straight salary, no deferrals or signing bonuses.

EX-RAYS RUMBLINGS: In addition to his Fox Sports Live TV work, Gabe Kapler has started a fitness blog called kaplifestyle.com. … RHP Hideo Nomo was elected to the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame, 1B Tino Martinez the Latin American Sports Hall. … INF Jorge Cantu is playing in Korea this season.

Marc Topkin can be reached at topkin@tampabay.com. Follow him on Twitter at @TBTimes_Rays.

. fast facts

Rays key dates

Feb. 14: Pitchers and catchers report to Port Charlotte

Feb. 20: First full-squad workout in Port Charlotte

Feb. 22: FanFest at the Trop

Feb. 28: Exhibition opener vs. O's at Port Charlotte

March 31: Regular-season opener vs. Jays at the Trop

Price hopeful he'll start season with Rays 01/18/14 [Last modified: Saturday, January 18, 2014 8:56pm]
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