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david priceAmong a number of other (some rather surprising) rumors David Kaplan offered up yesterday, he explained that he’s heard David Price’s preference in free agency is not the Chicago Cubs. That had been the presumption for a good long while, and had previously been reported by Ken Rosenthal.

Instead, Kaplan said, Price’s actual preference is to stick with the team that paid handsomely to acquire him at this season’s Trade Deadline: the Toronto Blue Jays. Furthermore, and also in contrast to a number of other reports, Kaplan said the Blue Jays do have the financial wherewithal to make it happen if they want.

And Kaplan’s not alone in hearing that Price’s preference is to stick with the Blue Jays.

Robert Murray reports that Price and his agent have made it known that Toronto is “far and away” his top choice in free agency. Murray, like Kaplan, adds that, yes, the Blue Jays can afford a $200 million deal, if it comes to that.

Now, then. It’s entirely possible that there’s nothing more to this than a free agent who really did enjoy his time with a particular team, and really does want to return there. The Blue Jays look fantastically talented over the next few years, and there are only a handful of teams in baseball where his impact would be as significant.

… but I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that so much of what happens in the offseason is a delicate dance. It remains possible that Price actually wants to go to Team X or Team Y, and simply wants to make sure he gets as much possible money out of Team X or Team Y before signing on the dotted line. Further, because the free agent class is so loaded, there’s probably going to be even more public dancing than usual this year, as teams and players and agents seek to play every option off of each other.

That is all to say, you have to pretty cautious when you regard a rumor like this. Price saying, according to a source, that his “far and away” top choice is to return to Toronto is equally consistent with a genuine position, as well as mere gamesmanship. Perhaps Price isn’t yet seeing the offers he likes out there, and this is a negotiating angle.

Then again, we can’t even know for sure that these rumors are emanating out of Price’s camp, as opposed to another team or another free agent that is served by this perception.

To get something a little more concrete out of this series of Price-Jays rumors, you’d like to hear something coming out of Toronto about whether there will be actual, serious, big money negotiations with Price.

From where I sit, seeing the Cubs spending $200+ million on Price would be a surprise – more surprising than the Blue Jays, who have just as clear of a need, and probably at least as much financial ability. This remains worth following, and I can’t wait until some of the pitching dominoes start falling.

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