The Tampa Bay Rays wasted little time in coming to an agreement with Cy Young-winning left-hander David Price on a one-year, $10.1 million contract to avoid arbitration.
Rays executive VP Andrew Friedman said it's always helpful for a team to get as much of its offseason "heavy lifting" done as early as possible, and the deal was completed more than two weeks before the Jan. 18 deadline to exchange figures.
"Both sides genuinely wanted to get a deal done," Friedman said Thursday. "And in David's mind, he was very open to doing this earlier than the deadline."
Price, who hits free agency after the 2015 season, was expected to more than double the $4.35 million he made last year, when he went 20-5 with a league-leading 2.56 ERA to win the American League Cy Young Award.
But with Price's price continuing to rise, it would seem less likely the Rays can sign him to a long-term deal. When the Rays signed star third baseman Evan Longoria to a six-year, $100 million extension in November, principal owner Stuart Sternberg said it's possible -- "in theory" -- to also sign Price.
But Sternberg also said that would have to be balanced with how a second big contract would impact the team's ability to remain competitive. The Rays' opening day payroll in 2012 was around $63 million. Next year, Price and Longoria will make more than $16 million between them.
"It's a difficult thing to answer without all of the variables, term, money, all of those things, so it's a difficult question to answer on any one specific player," Friedman said. "But we can certainly add another larger contract. But as Stu alluded to, it puts a lot more pressure on our remaining funds, which will be much smaller to fill out 23 guys around Longoria and whoever that contract is (for) to be able to win. Because at the end of the day that's what motivates us: winning and having a competitive team that we can sustain. So it's not an easy thing to answer in a vacuum."