LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- While Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman has remained tight-lipped regarding specific players or trades being targeted, one thing is certain: David Price remains the most coveted prize of Major League Baseball's Winter Meetings.
On Monday, at the conclusion of Day 1, the most prominent rumored suitors for Price are the Mariners, Angels, Dodgers, Rangers and D-backs.
Price is due to make approximately $30 million over the next two seasons before being eligible for free agency. But the way the Rays have historically done business and the fact that their payroll does not equal that of the larger-market teams have fueled the speculation that Price will traded.
Of course, any team open to trading for Price would likely want him to agree to a long-term deal, but Friedman would not address whether Tampa Bay would allow possible trade partners to negotiate with Price prior to a deal being struck.
"We don't talk about specifics of trades," Friedman said. "Beyond that, I think, we have trade discussions about players, both that we're looking to acquire or to potentially trade. And within the scope of those conversations, we talk about a lot of different factors."
Friedman pointed out that trades suitable for both parties are difficult to make due to any number of factors. In that vein, he said that the Rays' approach is to make the process for completing a deal as simple as possible. Plug that statement into Price's situation, and one would surmise that a team could negotiate with him in advance of a trade if doing so makes that trade less complex.
If Price is traded, the Rays would be left with a rotation of Alex Cobb, Matt Moore, Chris Archer, Jeremy Hellickson and Jake Odorizzi, with Alex Colome and Enny Romero providing Minor League depth. Friedman does not see Tampa Bay acquiring a veteran arm, as the club did with Roberto Hernandez prior to last season.
"I like the five that we have, and we like Odorizzi a lot," Friedman said. "I don't know yet how things are going to play out. But we felt with what Jake did last year, both in Triple-A and the experience he got at the Major League level, that he's deserving of a chance to pitch in the Major Leagues."
Friedman noted that the Rays like to be in a situation in which they do not have enough rotation spots for qualified starters.
"It consumes our thoughts on a daily basis of how to maintain that," he said. "How to always be in a position where we always feel good about one through five and, ideally, one through six. And we're at that place right now."
Tampa Bay is also looking for a first baseman. Whether that's bringing back free agent James Loney or someone else, Friedman said the priority is to have one who can hit right-handed pitching, whether he hits left-handed or not.
As far as candidates, Friedman said, "Our job is to figure out, really understand and appreciate the supply/demand and really get a sense of the number of guys who really fit for us."
Friedman added that a player the Rays target might not be the typical player who would be a good fit for other teams.
"And there's certain guys and skill sets and profiles that we like more," he said. "So we have 'X' number of viable candidates, and it's about lining it up and figuring out what the percentage chances are of getting our first target, our second and working down, and just trying to make sure when the music stops that we have a chair and that we're happy with the outcome. And so that's what we're really focused on. And so how we end up doing that, I don't really know right now."
Friedman did allow that the Rays spent more time on Monday talking to other teams about possible trades than to agents about signing their free-agent clients.
"And for the most part, [it's] just a continuation of talks that we were having leading up to the Meetings," Friedman said. "And I feel like some of them have more legs and some less. And some probably aren't as viable. But all of the information that we've gotten thus far is helpful as far as where we go from here."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com.