On Thursday, Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported that David Price is unlikely to sign a contract extension with the Detroit Tigers, either during or after the season. Rosenthal points out that Price would command a hefty contract that the Tigers may not want to pay, and also that Price has ties to several teams who may want to trade for him now or sign him in the offseason. Rosenthal added that Price and the Tigers have not had any serious discussion about a contract extension, and after last season, there is no reason to say they would otherwise.
The Tigers found themselves in a very similar situation last year. Max Scherzer was on the verge of becoming a free agent, and many of the fans were worried that Tigers would be unable to sign him. After declining a $144 million contract offer prior to the season, Scherzer decided he wanted to see what the market would offer, and became an unrestricted free agent in the offseason. Fans thought there might be a chance that the Tigers would resign him, but those hopes were dashed as Scherzer accepted a seven-year, $210 million contract to become the new ace of the Washington Nationals.
This year, the exact same thing is happening with Price. Fans were hoping that the Tigers would have offered Price a contract extension before the season started as well, but that didn't happen either. Now that the Tigers are currently a game under .500, and there are rumors that he is on the trading block, discussions of Price's future as a Tiger near the forefront of the mind of most Tigers' fans.
We don't really know what is going to happen, though. There is a lot of time between now and free agency, and the Tigers have to get through the trade deadline first. Many people believe the Tigers are going to sell before the deadline, while others, like Rosenthal, think that the Tigers will try to buy. Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski has been a very aggressive buyer at the trade deadline in recent years, which would more than likely mean Price will stay put after July 31st. If that happens, there's no telling what type of contract discussions may occur before everything is said and done.
The Tigers do not currently have a suitable replacement for Price on their roster. Last year, once the Tigers traded for Price, there was reason to believe that Scherzer's time was as a Tiger was nearing an end. Now, unless the Tigers trade for a frontline pitcher like James Shields, Cole Hamels or Johnny Cueto, the Tigers have to make re-signing David Price a priority, as they don't have anyone in waiting to take the reins. Justin Verlander has not been the same in over a year and a half, and Anibal Sanchez has been shaky as well. Unless the Tigers opt for another arm in the free agent market in 2015, Price is their best option. Though they did not pay Scherzer last year, there is no telling what they will do in 2015. They could put together the same modest offer and watch Price go elsewhere for more money, or they will prioritize winning in 2016 and open up the checkbook.
Price isn't the only unknown for the Tigers after the 2015 season. With several other free agents on the roster, there will be a number of holes that the Tigers will look to fill. We do not know what their main focus will be at the end of the season, nor whether the current front office will even be in place. Dave Dombrowski's contract is up at the end of the year, and reports indicate that there have been no extension negotiations yet. Not to mention, no one knows how much longer Mr. Iliitch will maintain his open checkbook policy with the Tigers' payroll. With so many question marks surrounding the Tigers organization as the end of the season draws closer, re-signing Price is just one of several obstacles they need to tackle in the coming months.