DETROIT -- Detroit Tigers lefty David Price wouldn't comment specifically on his pending foray into free agency but if there was ever a good match between a club and a player, the Chicago Cubs and Price would be it.
Price played for current Cubs manager Joe Maddon for the first 6 1/2 years of his career in Tampa Bay.
Price's former pitching coach at Vanderbilt, Derek Johnson, is the Cubs Minor League pitching coordinator.
Price wants to win and have fun doing it.
That last one might be the key -- other than money -- to where the lefty ends up. Like Jon Lester's trade to Oakland last season, Price's move from Tampa Bay to Detroit opened the door for anything come this winter when he hits free agency for the first time. He's moved teams once, he gets what it takes.
"They have a lot of guys they can control for a long time," Price said of the Cubs on Wednesday afternoon. "It's very similar to when I first came up in Tampa. Just a bunch of youg guys out there having fun. That's what it's about. You have to be able to have fun. I don't want to win and not have fun. I wouldn't rather lose and have fun but it's pretty close."
How many times did Price use the word "fun?"
There's no one that likes to have more fun than Maddon. It's one reason the two of them got along so well with the Rays. Could they be reunited with the Cubs?
"I'm a fun guy," Maddon said a few minutes later. "David and I are friends. I've said in the past he's probably one of the best teammates I've ever been around. It's a process that has to be worked out. I wish him the best with it. He's a unique individual."
He's also a pretty good pitcher. Price is 91-53 with a career 3.17 ERA including a 19 and 20 win season under his belt. The Cubs have indicated adding impact pitching to their rotation would be a long term project, not just a one-and-done situation. Lester is in the fold, Price makes some sense as well -- though the cost will undoubtedly be high.
"I've talked to guys that hit free agency, signed elsewhere and then want to come back," Price said. "You have to do your homework and know what you're getting yourself into.
For that reason the Cubs fit like a glove. Price knows exactly what he's getting with the man in charge.
"Joe is a very unique manager," the pitcher stated. "He was perfect for our team in Tampa. It's kind of the same way in Chicago right now.
"He does a really good job of making everybody in the clubhouse comfortable, loose and relaxed. When you have young guys that's what you need."
It's going to take more than $100 million to get Price, that much we know. Whether the Cubs should invest in another 30 year-old with plenty of miles on his arm is another question. There are several pitchers this offseason that could command that kind of money and the Cubs should be in the mix for all of them as they move into their more serious years of contending.
In spending $155 million on Lester the Cubs knew firsthand what they were getting as the front office employed him in Boston. The same concept should apply with Price -- Maddon and Johnson know him just as intimately as Cubs' brass knew Lester.
"I want to win," Price said . "That's something I want to do now and for a long time. ... You want to have fun and be in a loose clubhouse like we had in Tampa, like we have here (Detroit)."
Price went on to recall several infamous road trips with the Rays where Maddon had the team dress up. The Cubs are just completing one of those where shorts were the order of the day boarding a flight out of Miami. Price's favorite was the "pajama trip."
"That is hands down the most comfortable flight I've ever been on," Price recalled. "I had a onesie on. It pulls a team a little bit closer."
Price knows free agency can be fun and stressful at the same time and while he isn't revealing if it's on his mind he sounds prepared.
"You don't want to get blindsided in this game," he said. "I don't see myself signing somewhere where I have to change who I am and what I do at the field every day. I want to be able to be myself."
Can you think of manager that stresses that message more than Maddon? As for the Cubs, Price is also aware of their history.
"It's very special, absolutely," Price said. "There's probably not another city that's dying for a World Series than Chicago. I think everybody would probably agree with me on that."