David Price on Tigers' future: 'I am open for anything'

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Tigers pitcher David Price heads to one of the buses at the kick off of the Winter Caravan.

Detroit — David Price likes it here; he likes playing for the Detroit Tigers. You can put that topic to rest.

"I have enjoyed my time here," Price said Thursday before departing on the Tigers Winter Caravan. "I enjoyed being in the clubhouse, in the dugout and pitching for these guys. It was a lot of fun. We feel like we have some unfinished business and we're looking to get after it."

That doesn't mean, however, that he is itching to sign a long-term contract extension with the club. The lure of pending free agency is a powerful tug, especially in light of recent events.

"I am open for anything," Price said. "But once you get this far along in the process — I am a week short of six years in the big leagues and next year I will be a week short of seven years — some of you does want to wait it out.

"Then again, some of you is like, well, if they are open to doing something you can't close any doors. That's the way I feel. I enjoy it here. I am all ears."

Price will play this season on a one-year deal worth $19.75 million. The Tigers have an exclusive window to negotiate a contract extension, similar to the situation they were in with Max Scherzer last year.

And Price certainly took notice of how it played out for Scherzer, who rejected the Tigers' six-year, $144-million offer and signed a seven-year deal for $210 million with the Nationals on Monday.

"Good for him," Price said. "That's Monopoly money. You could never envision that as a little kid because salaries were nowhere near that. It's crazy, surreal and I am happy for Max."

Clearly, it will take a mega, mega offer by the Tigers to keep Price from hitting the market after the 2015 season.

"When you are 32 or 33 starts away from being on the open market, you're like, I've been doing this for a while and you get to a point where you can have your choice to pitch where you want to play," Price said. "And this one (Detroit) will be on the list. This isn't someplace I dislike.

"All I said before was that playing here was different. Well, it's not different any more. It's more normal now."

Price spoke an obvious truth at the end of last season. After being traded to the Tigers from Tampa, where he'd spent the first seven years of his career, he said playing in Detroit was different. And through the magic of social media and sports talk radio, that simple, honest statement became — he didn't like it here and he didn't want to play here.

"People have to understand, I was somewhere else for seven years," Price said. "I pitched against this team (Tigers) on July 4 weekend and three weeks later I'm part of this team. That's a difficult transition to go through.

"But like I said last year, all the guys on the team, the coaching staff and the fans, they made it a lot easier for me. Now that I've been in the clubhouse and on the plane and in the dugout with these guys, it makes everything feel a lot more like home."

The Tigers have not yet begun negotiating an extension with Price, but John Westhoff, the team's vice president for baseball legal affairs, has had conversations with Price's agent Bo McGinnis.

"(McGinnis) wants to make it very clear that David Price has no problem here at all," Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski said.

Dombrowski went on to say he never had any interest in or discussions about trading Price this offseason.

"He's a quality guy, his teammates like him, he likes his teammates and he likes the situation here," Dombrowski said. "He knows how we feel about him. We like him a great deal."

With Scherzer last year there came a point before the start of the season when the Tigers made a final offer and then stopped negotiating. Price said he hasn't thought about a timetable.

"Once the season gets started that would make it a little weird," he said of carrying negotiations into the season. "I want to be able to focus on being with my teammates and making sure I get my work in every day and not have to worry about any extra stuff.

"But they wouldn't be talking to me anyway. They will be talking to my agent. He's only going to come to me if there is something pertinent there. So, I am just going to talk to my agent and take it from there."

Price smiled at the thought of contract talk being a distraction.

"I feel like I've been through a lot more distracting things than long-term extension talks," he said. "I'm sure it could be a distraction at some point if it just lingered on. But when they are throwing X-amount of dollars at you, it's got to make you feel good.

"I mean, it can't be a bad thing."

Chris McCosky on Twitter @cmccosky