Rays offseason: Sticking to the formula

USA TODAY Sports

It's going to be sad for Tampa to see David Price go, but they need to deal him this winter to get maximum value.

The Rays might have done a little bit too well the last time they were faced with trading an ace. GM Andrew Friedman appears to have won the James Shields trade with Wil Myers earning consideration for AL Rookie of the Year and set to be under team control until 2020.

On the Royals side of the deal, James Shields has been excellent, but will be a free agent after the season and they have an expensive predicament to deal with in Wade Davis' contract.

Friedman somehow swindled not only Myers, but Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery, and Patrick Leonard for Shields, and more importantly he was able to rid himself of one of his rare mistakes.

Davis' contract rewards him as a starter, but his only real success has come in the bullpen. Neither Tampa Bay or Kansas City can afford to pay him what he's due as a middle reliever, so Friedman deserves recognition for seamlessly turning a bad choice into a trade chip.

But the fantastic (and creative) return he got from Shields might be hard to top when the Rays finally move David Price. Price is a better pitcher and has a better upside than Shields, but Price's next contract is looming, and it's going to be huge. The closer his free agency gets, the less teams will offer for his temporary services.

More Rays from DRays Bay: Gauging interest in David Price, Part 5

Free agents

Jesse Crain, Fernando Rodney, Roberto Hernandez, Jose Molina, Luke Scott, Kelly Johnson, James Loney, Jamey Wright, Delmon Young, and Juan Carlos Oviedo

The Rays have enough pitching prospects to mix and match in the bullpen and rotation that they shouldn't miss Rodney too much. But they'll likely scour the market for another reclamation or two, as they have made a habit of such signings in recent years. Jmes Loney will probably be the hardest guy to replace if the Rays can't find a way to bring him back. Loney was worth almost 3 wins, according to FanGraphs, so Friedman might face some serious competition for him. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times notes that Loney is expected to get something in the range of 2 years and $14M-$20M. At that price, he won't be back.

Needs

C, 1B, DH, RP

With Myers, Desmond Jennings and the newly signed David DeJesus, the Rays have their outfield settled. They could still use a bat from the right side if Matt Joyce is situated as their regular left-handed DH. Jose Lobaton and Jose Molina split the catching duties in 2013, but if Molina moves on, the Rays will need a capable backstop to spell Lobaton. Though the team's main concerns might be replacing their exiting free agents at 1B and in the bullpen.

Trade Pieces

Price, prospects

Since the Rays aren't likely to trade any major prospects, the only significant trade they're likely to make is a the one that sends Price off to a team with a more flexible budget. They will likely be looking for at least one major league-ready difference-maker in the deal, if not two or three. Friedman would probably love to add a catcher or a first baseman, but he isn't likely to limit the return on Price to prospects that fill an immediate need on the big club. Besides, you can never have too much pitching and their only position that is set in stone is Evan Longoria at third. Other than him, they can move players around -- which they love to do -- to get their best guys on the field.

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