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Tampa Bay Rays ace David Price open to long-term deal, but specifics remain elusive

Signing young, talented players to long-term deals, as the Rays did again last week with right-handed pitcher Wade Davis, is a way, and perhaps the only way, for the team to keep them around.

And at some point, the question will be asked about left-handed pitcher David Price.

As it is now, the Rays could keep Price, 25, for four more seasons, though it will be quite costly as he'll be arbitration eligible each year, and he'd hit free agency in 2016 as a 30-year-old in line for mega-millions.

Price said Saturday that he'd be open to a long-term deal with the Rays under the right terms, though of course neither he nor agent Bo McKinnis is going to say what those would be.

"If it's realistic, absolutely, that is something I would definitely do," Price said. "I love it here, absolutely. Everyone here knows that I'm a huge fan of this organization and all the people that are in the clubhouse. I feel like it's the right place for me."

What's "realistic" depends on a lot of things, including how many free agent years are involved. A starting point dollar-wise? Maybe somewhere between Tim Lincecum's two-year, $23 million deal and Cole Hamels' three-year, $21 million deal.

Price, who got a $5.6 million bonus in his original six-year, $8.5 million deal, will make $1.25 million this season, then soar next year as a Super 2 arbitration-eligible.

Third baseman Evan Longoria, who is under Rays control through 2016, said he hopes Price signs up: "I'm locked into a contract, which I'm very happy about, and I hope that something like that could happen with David, whether it be a two-, three-, four-year extension or something longer."

The long-term deals are risky for the Rays but an integral part of their business plan. The deals for Carl Crawford and Longoria (so far) worked out, the Rocco Baldelli and Scott Kazmir ones didn't, and the James Shields, Ben Zobrist and Davis deals remain to be seen.

"Sometimes they work out well and sometimes a little less so," principal owner Stuart Sternberg said. "But without being able to have players have some cost certainty at a price that we can afford, we can't do business."

Marc Topkin can be reached at topkin@sptimes.com.

Tampa Bay Rays ace David Price open to long-term deal, but specifics remain elusive 04/02/11 [Last modified: Sunday, April 3, 2011 1:13pm]
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