Given their financial profile and the ongoing industrywide escalation in player salaries, the Rays can't afford not to consider trading ace David Price if an unexpectedly overwhelming offer came along in the next few weeks, or even months.

But given the investment in this season's team, with the 25-man payroll extended (over­extended, they say) to a franchise high in the mid $70 millions, and increasing excitement internally and throughout the market about their potential, could they really afford to deal their staff leader?

Price is certainly hoping the potential for success is part of the equation, and last week, after agreeing to an arbitration-avoiding team-record, one-year $14 million salary, he made another pitch to stay.

"I feel like we have a very good team, so hopefully we can make some kind of run," he said. "If we can have this team that we have right now on paper and everybody stays healthy and produces the type of seasons that we all can produce, I think we can do something special. … I want to be part of it."

Price, 28, spent much of what has to have been an awkward offseason at his family's Nashville-area home, hoping nothing would happen. He came back to the Tampa Bay area last week to intensify workouts, thinking wishfully aloud that he could soon exhale and assume he is staying.