Saturday, December 16, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Price's injury hurts Rays' present, future

David Price's sore arm, coming after his poor start to the season, could end up costing the Rays for a long time.

The immediate impact, obviously, isn't good.

Price won only once in his first nine starts, and the Rays won only two of the games. He will miss at least 2-3 weeks, placed on the disabled list with a triceps strain. And when he does come back, there will be questions, pressure and intense scrutiny about whether he is healthy and if he can regain his past Cy Young Award form, which the Rays, obviously, need if they are going to make another run to the postseason.

But the future impact could be worse.

At some point — whether late this season, during the winter, next July or, at the very latest, the following offseason — the Rays are likely to trade Price. He, simply, will have earned a massive contract, both in terms of years and value, they cannot afford, especially having already committed long term to Evan Longoria.

They would, of course, expect a massive haul in terms of quality young players (if not quantity), the type of blue-chippers who could set them up for future success; more, maybe much more, than they got for Matt Garza and James Shields.

And now that could be in jeopardy.

Certainly for the unlikely-as-it-was-anyway prospect of a trade this July because teams won't have enough time once Price returns to be absolutely, positively sure he is both healthy and straightened out.

But even going forward, it's fair to wonder if teams will view Price, 27, a little differently — a bit more fallible, less invincible and not as worthy of quite as much return. ESPN's Buster Olney made the comparison to the Twins having to take a lesser package for Johan Santana after the 2007 season due to concerns about his arm.

And if the Rays get the sense the market has diminished some, they will have to decide whether to take what potentially could be a huge gamble that he will get better overall and wait to make a deal.

None are good scenarios.

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