Rounding Third: Still a little too early for Price rumors

When there's smoke, there is usually fire. And let's not kid ourselves, at some point before the start of next season, the Tampa Bay Rays are going to trade left-hander David Price.

It's not even May yet and we are already hearing potential suitors. Has the early season been this boring that we are already going down the trade scenario route?

Let's make it real simple: There will be at least 29 teams interested in his services once the Rays decide to put him on the market.

Some have speculated that Price could be the first pitcher to sign a $200 million deal, so, of course, that asking price will eliminate a lot of those teams from the discussion.

But, maybe not.

First of all, the American League's reigning Cy Young Award winner still has two years left of arbitration, meaning it's not as if he's walking at the end of this year. Any team involved is going to give up a boatload of prospects, but they also could recoup that in a deal over the next few seasons.

This is where it gets tricky. The Rays paid Price $10.1 million for this season in arbitration, which at the signing was a record salary for a second- time arbitration-eligible pitcher. He's going to break records the other two years if that's the route you are going to take.

We all know the big-market teams that will be interested. But maybe there is a team way off the radar willing to take a chance for two years and then just go the route of Tampa and cut its losses by getting more prospects.

Chances are, though, any team that deals for Price is doing so with the intent of locking him up.

The fact of the matter is the Rays are going to get just as much and maybe more this winter than they will by the July 31 trade deadline. Yes, Tampa hasn't looked that great here in the first month, but still they are only a handful of games out of first place in the American League East and are within striking distance of one of the league's two wild card spots.

And super prospect Wil Myers is not that far away from making his major league debut.

Tampa is not a dumb organization. As much as the Rays feel as if someone else steps right in and takes Price's place - like a Matt Moore - they know full well that they are giving up. For this season anyway. Moore is not ready to lead this staff just yet. He's getting close, but it's not here yet.

And then there's the whole dealing Price while he's down theory. He could be 0-8 at the trade deadline with an ERA still hovering around 5.00 and the Rays' lines are still going to blow up.

But Price hasn't been that impressive. After going 20-5 with a 2.56 ERA in his award-winning 2012 campaign, the former first overall pick is still looking for his first win after five starts (0-2) and has pitched to a 5.52 ERA.

Now he has allowed three runs or less in three of his outings. The high ERA is more attributed to him giving up eight runs in five innings to Cleveland back on April 7.

Price is going to be just fine. And so are the Rays. If anyone thinks this team isn't going to be right in the thick of the playoff races come August, well. then you haven't been following them the past few years.

Is David Price going to get moved? Yes. Is it going to be anytime soon? No. There is nothing to see here.

Now back to your round-the-clock NFL Draft coverage.


* The injuries just keep on coming for the Los Angeles Dodgers. If losing Zack Greinke and Hanley Ramirez weren't enough, righty Chad Billingsley underwent Tommy John surgery and will likely miss at least the rest of this season and perhaps the start of next year. Billingsley, who was originally injured last August, had attempted to avoid the surgery by taking platelet-rich plasma injections, but complained of pain following his second start.

* How good is Yu Darvish? The Japanese superstar was flawless again on Wednesday against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, as he improved to 4-1, while lowering his ERA to 1.65. He also struck out 11 batters and has notched 49 whiffs in 32 2/3 innings this season. We should have seen this coming, though. He was tremendous down the stretch last season. In 13 starts since mid-August, Darvish is 10-3 with a 2.10 ERA. In 90 innings, he has 116 strikeouts. I'm on record that Darvish will be your American League starter at this year's All-Star game in New York.

... Speaking of that:

* Major League Baseball unveiled its fan ballots for the upcoming All-Star Game this week and oddly enough Derek Jeter is still listed for the Yankees, but Alex Rodriguez is not. Neither is expected to be back at any point before the game at Citi Field in New York, but it is odd. At least this year when Jeter is voted in, he won't have to come up with a silly excuse not to play, as he has the previous two seasons.

* Welcome back, Jose Valverde. The Detroit Tigers reinserted Valverde into the closer's role upon being recalled on Tuesday and he responded by getting the save in Wednesday's win. Valverde, of course, was awful in last year's postseason and was scrambling to find work until the Tigers agreed to a minor league deal with him shortly after the start of the season. Valverde looked good on Wednesday, though, as a new windup helped him reach 95 mph at one point. I'd expect the leash to be real short, however.