We were sure that it was inevitable. The Rays had been unable to sign B.J. Upton to an extension, and as he approached free agency, the Rays were going to have to trade him, right? That was certainly the way things seemed. But at the end of the day, they didn’t. They held onto Upton throughout 2011 and 2012 as well, and they were rewarded by Upton leading the team in home runs (28) and tying for the lead in stolen bases (31) in his final year with the team. Following the season, Upton left Tampa Bay and found his big contract elsewhere, agreeing to a 5-year, $75.25MM contract with the Atlanta Braves.

Why didn’t the Rays trade Upton? Because they believed that his contributions to their team were worth more than any trade offer they received, and their reward for sticking with him was a compensatory first round pick in this year’s MLB Draft. Did the Rays make the right decision? We can’t be sure what the Rays would have gotten for Upton and only time will tell what the compensation pick will turn into. What we do know, though, is that the Rays sticking with Upton until the end was the only thing that kept them in contention in 2012 as Upton caught fire at the end of 2012 and without him the Rays certainly would have nailed down their third straight 90-win season (although not a playoff berth). What does any of this have to do with David Price? Over the coming years, the Rays will be forced to make a major decision with their star left-hander: to keep him until the last possible moment like they did with Upton or to trade him for a massive reward like they elected to do with James Shields.

In a video for Fox Sports, Ken Rosenthal talked about when the Rays will trade David Price. He said that in the “unlikely event” that the Rays will fall out of contention by the trade deadline, Price will likely be dealt then, but otherwise he will likely be traded following the season. Rosenthal’s more interesting comment, though, was that the Rays could keep Price without too much of a problem in 2014 thanks to the extra $27MM in TV revenue that will be coming to the Rays that year through the new national TV detail. However, Rosenthal warns, that would lower his trade value significantly as he would be much closer to free agency. But how much does that really matter? David Price is one of the best pitchers in baseball and the Rays having him on their team for an additional year or two could make all the difference.