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Maddon trying not to think about losing Price

With limited payroll, manager understands how Rays must operate

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- If you're the manager of the Rays, you better be able to learn names quickly, because there's a good chance that a lot of new faces will be in the clubhouse every spring.

Joe Maddon addressed the media on Monday, the first day of Major League Baseball's annual Winter Meetings at the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort. And like most Winter Meetings in recent memory, the Rays hold the attention of the baseball world because of players who might be leaving. This year, that attention comes from the possibility of David Price getting traded.

Price is due to make approximately $30 million over the next two seasons before being available for free agency. Based on the way Tampa Bay does business, and the fact the club's payroll is not on par with larger-market teams, the speculation is rampant that Price will be traded.

Maddon understands that adjusting to the roster is a part of his job, but thinking about life without Price is "never a good thought."

"We went through the same thing last year with James [Shields]," said Maddon, referencing last year's blockbuster trade that saw Shields go to the Royals and brought Wil Myers to the Rays. "James is the same kind of pitcher, and the same kind of player within the clubhouse and locker room."

Maddon is aware of the rumors regarding destinations for the 2012 American League Cy Young Award winner. If such a trade does come to fruition, the manager said the team won't be simply losing a talented player, but a clubhouse leader as well, which he allowed is indeed tough to swallow.

But the glass-is-half-full manager understands how the organization runs.

"This is how we have to operate within our little world," Maddon said.

Over the course of the past several years, Tampa Bay has seen a boatload of talented players -- highlighted by the likes of Shields, B.J. Upton and Carl Crawford -- go elsewhere. A smile came to Maddon's face when asked how he deals with such loss.

"It's just the way this thing works," Maddon said. "Just think if we could have kept all those guys, maybe kept them together for 15 years -- like the Yankees in 1995 and through the present time. I'll permit myself that thought on occasion. But reality is, that's not the way it is. So I don't lament that."

Maddon said he is happy for former players to be able to go elsewhere and make "some good money for themselves and their family."

"I'm all about that," Maddon said, "but I don't lament the thought that people have to leave and what it's going to look like next year. I've got all the confidence in the world that the program will work. The philosophy will work. The structure will work. And I believe in that. I'm not saying I like losing any of these guys. I permit myself that thought once in a while what it would be like to have them all here, but that's not real."

Maddon did not shy away from the question regarding what the Rays might expect to receive in return for Price given what they received in the deal involving Shields.

"I just know if you're going to trade a guy, a player like that, the return should be pretty darn good," Maddon said. "But then again, you might be at the mercy of what's available right now. Wil was available last year. There was a Wil Myers available last year. Is there one this year? I'm not as privy to the scouting information to know if that's true or not. But you would like to believe you're going to get a pretty good ransom in return."

Maddon confessed to embracing the challenge of operating with the limitations the Rays have.

"I grew up that way, so I do embrace it," Maddon said. "I kind of enjoy it. ... The intellectual process that we have to go through on an annual basis to be good gets me very excited.

"I think there's a little bit of purity involved in that. There's more of a pure sense in regards to the game and how it should be played. So for a lot of different reasons, working where I work is the best job in Major League Baseball."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for

Tampa Bay Rays