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MINNEAPOLIS -- Tampa Bay ace David Price arrived at the All-Star Game expecting to be peppered with questions about his future and his chances of still being with the Rays when baseball's non-waiver trade deadline passes July 31.
He was not disappointed.
Price, making his fourth All-Star appearance in six big-league seasons, told reporters during Monday's media availability that he has a comfort level in Tampa Bay and would prefer to remain with the Rays' organization.
But he said he has come to grips with the team's financial limitations since negotiations toward a long-term contract stalled during the 2012-13 offseason and he knows a trade is more a question of when than if.
"Coming up in our organization, I've seen it happen before with guys like (James) Shields and (Matt) Garza and Delmon (Young) and (Jason) Bartlett,'' Price said. "We've had quite a few guys at this point in the season go through the trade rumors.
|David Price said he has come to grips with Tampa Bay's financial limitations since negotiations on a long-term contract stalled during the 2012-13 offseason.|
"Since 2012, (the Rays and I) both understood that for Tampa to continue the kind of success we've had over the past five or six years, this is the way they operate. I would love to stay there and for us to continue to be successful. But I don't know if that's a possibility.''
Price will be eligible for free agency in November 2015, and the Rays can't afford another nine-figure contract with third baseman Evan Longoria in the early stages of a deal that could be worth $144.6 million through 2023. As a 28-year-old power lefty with an 80-46 career record and a Cy Young Award on his resume, Price has abundant appeal to contending teams looking for a difference-maker down the stretch this season and for 2015.
The Dodgers are one potential suitor for Price because of their financial resources and deep supply of minor-league prospects. But the Angels, Giants, Cardinals, Mariners, Braves, Yankees and Blue Jays are other clubs that have been mentioned in speculation.
The Rays, who bottomed out at 24-42 on June 10, have won 20 of their last 31 to pull within eight games of a wild card berth. But ESPN.com's playoff tracker still gives them only a 3.9 percent chance of making the postseason this year.
Price said he tries to steer clear of trade rumors, but he's inevitably reminded of his status when he checks in on Twitter and other social media.
"I kind of know what's come out when I wake up in the morning and a different fan base will say, 'You'll look good in red' or whatever color that team wears,'' Price said. "I've had a lot of Rays fans reaching out to me, too, saying how much they appreciate me and they want me to stay. Those are the fans I've been pitching for the last six or seven years. It's special.''
Price is one of several players in Minneapolis whose future is hazy because of pending free agency, or constant losing, or a team's desire to shed salary and go in a different direction with younger, more affordable talent.
Philadelphia second baseman Chase Utley, Boston pitcher Jon Lester, San Diego closer Huston Street and Colorado shortstop Troy Tulowitzki also spent the All-Star media availability answering questions about where they could land over the coming weeks.
Tulowitzki is a four-time All-Star who's having an MVP-caliber season with the Rockies. But he's in the middle of a $157.75 million contract that runs through 2020 and might be too extravagant for a Colorado franchise that's headed for its fourth straight sub-.500 season. At the same time, Tulowitzki admits the losing in Denver has taken a toll on him.
"The one thing that sticks out is that I want to play for a winner,'' Tulowitzki said. "I'd love for that to happen in Colorado. At the end of the year, you sit down with the organization and see if they feel like they can put a winning ballclub together or if they want to go in a different direction. It's something that has to be answered.
"But definitely, winning is most important to me. I'm at the halfway point of my career and the times that I've won, I've been a lot better off. I've been in a better mood and it makes it fun to come to the ballpark.''
Utley is one of several Phillies at the center of trade rumors this month with the team languishing in last place in the NL East at 42-53. Shortstop Jimmy Rollins, outfielder Marlon Byrd, closer Jonathan Papelbon and starters Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels are other prominent Phillies who could be targeted by contending teams seaching for upgrades.
Utley and Rollins both have 10 years of big-league service time and more than five years of time with the Phillies, so they would have to give their consent for any deal to take place.
"I've talked to guys who've played for the Phillies and gone on to other organizations, and the grass isn't always greener on the other side,'' Utley said. "I've picked some brains over the past few years, and I really enjoy Philadelphia. I love playing baseball in Citizens Bank Park and I love playing in front of the Philly fans. There's no better place to play in my opinion. Obviously winning is important, and I would like to do that in Philadelphia.''
Utley, whose contract includes a series of vesting options that could keep him with the Phillies through 2018 provided he stays healthy, was asked where he envisions being in August.
"That's a good question,'' he said. "If I was a betting man, I would say there will probably be no change.''