ORLANDO — Excited? Nervous? Curious?
"How about all the above?" Rays LHP David Price said about today's 2 p.m. announcement of the AL Cy Young Award. "It'll be fun to finally hear. I'm definitely excited to find out who won, or, actually, if I won or not."
Price, already voted the league's best pitcher in the players' vote, has a shot at the top award given his 19-6 record and 2.72 ERA. The other leading candidates are Seattle's Felix Hernandez, given a majors-best 2.27 ERA and despite a 13-12 record (justified by his team being held to one or no runs in 10 of his 34 starts) and New York's CC Sabathia, who was 21-7, 3.18.
"It would be awesome for me to win it in my first full season," Price said from Tennessee. "I hope I do. I'd love to be getting on a plane to Tampa for a press conference."
His bosses are obviously pulling for him. "I'm not a fair person to ask in that I'm biased — I want our guy to win," Rays executive VP Andrew Friedman said. "I think our guy is deserving. But I'm sure (Yankees GM) Brian Cashman feels the same about Sabathia and (Mariners GM) Jack Zduriencik feels the same about Felix and (Red Sox GM) Theo Epstein feels the same about Clay Buchholz."
BYE BYE, BENOIT: The Rays' "sliver of hope" to retain setup man Joaquin Benoit was obliterated by a staggering three-year, $16.5 million offer from the Tigers as they instead lost the first of several free agents from their bullpen.
"Obviously a great outcome for Joaquin — he's very deserving," Friedman said during a break in the GM meetings. "Coming off the year he had, we knew that there would be a lot of demand. We had some sliver of hope that things would work out differently. But he earned the right to become a free agent, had a phenomenal season and was able to cash in on one of the largest middle reliever contracts in the history of baseball."
The Rays made a low-risk gamble in signing Benoit to a minor-league deal after he missed the 2009 season following shoulder surgery. Benoit, who made about $1 million in salary and incentives from the Rays, led AL relievers with a 1.34 ERA and .147 opponents average.
Of the Rays' five other free agent relievers, Rafael Soriano is leaving and Randy Choate and Chad Qualls likely will; Grant Balfour and Dan Wheeler could return.
MISCELLANY: Arizona OF Justin Upton, brother of the Rays' B.J., is the subject of numerous trade rumors, including the Red Sox and Yankees. … The Blue Jays acquired speedy OF Rajai Davis from the Athletics for two minor-leaguers. … Talk of adding two wild-card teams to the playoffs will continue today when commissioner Bud Selig addresses the owners, also meeting here. … The Mets held second-round managerial interviews with Chip Hale and Bob Melvin; Wally Backman and Terry Collins are due in today.