ST. PETERSBURG — With the rumors of his impending trade building like thunder clouds over Tropicana Field on an August afternoon, Tampa Bay Rays pitcher David Price admitted Tuesday that, yes, the idea of being sent to another team by the July 31 non-waiver deadline has been very much on his mind.
“Obviously I think about it,” Price said. “That’s why I’ve been in a bad mood for the last week and a half, so, yeah, I think about it. It’s not what I want to talk about. I don’t have an answer for you guys. I don’t know when I’m going. I don’t know where I’m going.”
Price was the top name last offseason in trade rumors. He already is the leading candidate to be the first pitcher traded this summer as the Rays try to get ahead of the market that also includes Chicago Cubs right-hander Jeff Samardzija.
With the Rays mired in last place and saddled with the worst record in the major leagues, with a farm system lacking in high-level prospects and with Price less than two years from free agency, this would appear to be a good time for the Rays to move their ace.
The left-hander started this afternoon during the homestand finale against the Pittsburg Pirates. With the Rays leaving Thursday for an 11-game, 10-day road trip, Price was asked if he thought it could be his final start at the Trop as a Ray.
“I thought that was the case last year in 2013, thought that was my last start here,” Price said, “No. I mean yes and no.”
Manager Joe Maddon was asked if he noticed any change in Price’s mood over the past few weeks.
“There’s nothing I can say to make him feel any better. I doubt that,” Maddon said. “He needs to feel my support all the time. I hope he does. Beyond all that, part of this is it is a business, and when you get caught up in the business component sometimes that makes it uncomfortable. On the other hand, I think his performance has been great regardless of rumors. I think he’s done a wonderful job. Mood-wise, I’ve never been traded, so I don’t know what that feels like.
“A guy like him has been through a lot of different moments and has always been able to handle them. If his performance has been bothered by it at all, I haven’t seen it. If his mood has been affected by it, that’s possible. I think that’s just being a human being.”
When asked about the possibility of continuing the season without Price, Maddon said his thoughts are the same as last winter when it became clear Price would not be traded.
“(I was) so happy to get him back because of what it means to us, and look what he’s done already this year,” Maddon said. “Who knows? Who knows how it’s going to play out. I never concede anything, so he’s a Ray and I hope he stays a Ray.”