David Price’s future with Rays looms large this offseason

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Tampa Bay Rays left-hander David Price admits he could be traded in the offseason.

A day after the Rays’ season ended with a 3-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox at Tropicana Field in the American League Division Series, the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner acknowledged that a trade this winter is possible for him. The former first-overall pick in the 2007 amateur draft completed his sixth season with the Rays, posting a 10-8 record with a 3.33 ERA in 27 regular-season starts.

Price, 28, isn’t eligible to become a free agent until after the 2015 season. But economic realities for the Rays could force them to explore options to maximize return for his value.

“If you go with what’s been done in the past, I guess you’re going to have to think you’re going to get traded,” Price told reporters in a conference call.

Price’s future was a popular topic when Rays players packed up their clubhouse Wednesday afternoon. Third baseman Evan Longoria said “sometimes the decision is taken out of your hands,” but added that the decision-makers for the franchise, including principal owner Stuart Sternberg and executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, “have our best interests in mind.”

“I know if David had his way, he would be here,” Longoria said. “If I had my way, he would be here, also. It’s not only what’s in the best interests of the player but in the organization, as well.”

Rays manager Joe Maddon and Friedman also weighed in.

“It’s never an inviting thought to think that David’s not going to be with you,” Maddon said. “We’re faced with a lot of this stuff on an annual basis. We’ve gone through it. It’s part of who we are here. We understand that. I’m hoping that it would turn out differently that he would be able to be here.”

Added Friedman: “From our standpoint, we don’t comment on what-ifs. It’s easy to talk about what he means to this organization and what he has done for it. … But with any player that we have, it’s just not helpful to comment on what-ifs.”

The Rays parted ways with right-hander James Shields last December in a blockbuster trade that allowed them to acquire Wil Myers, a promising outfielder who hit .293 with 13 home runs and 53 RBI in 88 games this year.

Price, who made $10 million this season, says similar moves in the past have influenced how he views his current situation.

“It’s not disappointing or anything like that,” Price told reporters. “This is a place I love to be. My teammates and everyone in the organization knows that. It’s part of baseball, and it’s something I’ve seen go on. It’s kind of something I somewhat prepared myself for.”

You can follow Andrew Astleford on Twitter @aastleford or email him at aastleford@gmail.com.