ST. PETERSBURG -- With Masahiro Tanaka signing a seven-year, $155 million deal with the Yankees on Wednesday, there could be renewed interest in Rays ace David Price from teams that missed out on the Japanese hurler.
Widely considered to be the top available pitcher in the marketplace, Tanaka drew serious interest not only from the Yanks, but also the Dodgers, Angels, Cubs, White Sox and D-backs. Now the question becomes: Which of these teams will be willing to give the Rays what is needed to pry Price away?
Last week, Price and Tampa Bay agreed to a one-year, $14 million contract. While some might have considered the deal a signal that Price will be in a Rays uniform in 2014, the only true significance of the transaction was that the club and Price avoided going to arbitration.
After signing his new deal, Price said he would feel even better if he makes it to Spring Training with Tampa Bay, because being traded during camp "would kind of put a bad taste in everybody's mouth, especially with the guys on the team.
"I have a close relationship with all those guys," Price said. "If everybody thought that we were moving forward as a team [and] then I get traded in Spring Training, I don't think anybody would be too happy about it."
While there has been wide speculation about the Rays trading Price, the team controls the 2012 American League Cy Young Award winner through the 2015 season. Tampa Bay doesn't comment about potential trades, but clearly it wouldn't mind having Price on the mound for Opening Day, either.
Price sounded philosophical when asked about his situation during an interview on MLB Network on Wednesday.
"One thing I know for sure is I'm still playing baseball and I'm still pitching," Price said. "So for me, my mindset hasn't changed. I continue to prepare for the game of baseball the way that I have. And whether I'm a Ray or somewhere else, I'm still playing baseball and the mound's still 60 feet, six inches, so it really doesn't change what I do."
Price noted that he understands how the small-market Rays must do business in order to remain competitive.
"Once I kind of got adjusted to how everything operated, I knew that was a possibility," Price said. "I definitely love Tampa Bay and love everything about the organization. I think everybody who knows the organization knows that as well. It's a part of it. I understand that. I think that's really what's helped me most in this process is just kind of understanding what's going on. [I] understand that it takes a little bit of time and kind of seeing how things shake out. I've watched people go through this a couple of times, and it makes it a little bit easier."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com.