David Price pitching at Camden Yards
Courtesy: Keith Allison/Flickr
The Rays are, as they have been since 2008, in "win now" mode. The Rays want to win it all and bring the Commissioners Trophy to Tampa Bay. To do that, they have to give themselves the best chance possible. How would trading David Price help them in 2014? The simple answer is it wouldn't. You're not gonna see a trade that sends David Price elsewhere for someone that is an equal. So any trade would be a downgrade, whether it be a permanent downgrade or a temporary one while the talent grows in AAA.
If the Rays are really wanting to win now, they will not trade David Price this offseason. I know this creates a financial burden on the team. But the Rays already have him and they will need to give themselves the best chance possible being in the American League East. And that best chance has Price in a Rays uniform.
By trading him you not only lose that talent, you also lose a fan favorite and a positive presence in the locker room. The first part of that, the fan favorite part, is one of the main reasons team loyalty has been so hard to build in Tampa Bay because every few years you have a team whose players are completely unknown to the fan base all over again. Sure the die-hards will have been following the players since the low-level minors, but the casual fan (the type of fan that makes up most of the fan base) will not know them and you have to sell the team to the area all over agqain.
Let's look at the Bucs as an example. In the 1990s and early 2000s they had Derrick Brooks, John Lynch, Mike Alstott, Warren Sapp. All those fan favorites led to team loyalty and ultimately led to the sellout streak the Bucs enjoyed during that time. Today, they have Doug Martin, Gerald McCoy, Darrel Revis, to name a few. You have the same thing happening at the Times Forum on the other side of town. Right now, you have fan favorites in Martin St. Louis, Steven Stamkos and formerly Vinny Lecavalier. All these names are (or were) the face of their franchise in Tampa Bay and fan favorites and stuck around for so many years helping form team loyalty from the fans. The Rays ultimately need to find a way to hold on these players much longer than they do now. I'm not suggesting a $100 million payroll. I'm suggesting holding on the fan favorites. They took one step in that direction last year when they extended Longo through 2022.
The bottom line is this, the Rays want to win now and be a mainstay in Tampa Bay. To do that, they have to keep the players they need and build team loyalty. They took a step with that last year with the extension of Longo. Now it's time they did it again and hold on to Price for at least one more season and give them the best chance they can to succeed in 2014. It will hurt his value, but that won't matter if there's a championship. Admittedly, I believe they should end up extending him in an ideal situation.
That said, keep David Price for 2014. Give the Rays the best chance for 2014 to be a championship year.