Mixed emotions for Joe Maddon

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- You can still find David Price's name listed on the roster of the Tampa Bay Rays.

But as the trade rumors swirled Monday, Price's manager, Joe Maddon, said that dealing players like Price is simply "how we have to operate."

Asked what he knew about where the Price trade talks stand, Maddon replied: "What I've heard is, obviously, what everybody else is hearing. There is a lot of conjecture and talk about it. When you lose a player of that magnitude, not just the fact that he's such a good pitcher, but this guy ... matters a lot to the clubhouse and to the team. (But) having said all those things ... this is how we have to operate within our little world.

"So if it were to happen, it's one of those that's almost the word 'devastating' in a sense. But we have to recover from those kind of moments if it does actually occur."

Speaking with a large group of reporters on the first day of the winter meetings, Maddon said it's "probably less likely" that the Rays would wait to trade Price during next season, "but nevertheless it could happen. But right now that is part of the war-room scenario ... talking about all these potential things.

"Guys like him are rare," Maddon went on. "David is a rare person and a rare pitcher, and from a managerial perspective, we like to keep those kind of guys."

But Maddon said he'd been through enough similar situations that he didn't have to prepare himself emotionally for the trade of his ace.

"We traded James Shields," Maddon said. "Carl Crawford's gone. B.J. (Upton) left. It's just the way this thing works. Again, I guess, let's rewind that thought. Just think if you could have kept all those guys for several years and keep them together for maybe 15 years like the Yankees did starting in 1995, '96 to present time. And I do commit myself to that thought on occasion, but the reality is, that's not the way it is.

"So I don't lament that. I'm really happy for the guys that, once they've done well here, they go somewhere else and do well and make good money for themselves and their family. I'm all about that. But I don't lament the thought that people have to leave and what it's going to look like next year.

"I have all the confidence in the world that the program will work, the philosophy will work, the structure will work," Maddon said. "I believe in that. I'm not saying I like losing any of those guys. ... I permit myself that thought once in a while, like what would it be like to have them all here. But it's not real."

Maddon said he didn't know if the Rays could get more for Price than they got by trading Shields to Kansas City last December, a deal that brought them AL rookie of the year Wil Myers.

"I have not evaluated it that way myself mentally," he said. "You just know that if you're going to trade a guy or player like that, the returns should be pretty darn good. But then again, you might be at the mercy of what's available right now. I mean, Wil was available last year. There was room last year on the roster. Is there one (like that who's available) this year? I'm not as privy to that scouting information, to know if that's true or not. But you'd like to believe you're going to get a pretty good ransom in return."

If Price does get traded, Maddon expressed hope that Alex Cobb might be able to step into the leadership role on this pitching staff that Price assumed after Shields was traded -- but not in every way.

"Alex Cobb," he said, "is the kind of guy that can eventually be that kind of player on the team, based on his tenacity, his work ethic and his performance. We definitely have that within our clubhouse.

"But I really do like (an atmosphere that's a little) crazy. I like fun. I like 'off the wall.' I like all that. That's really important. You play 162 (games). You're with each other every day. I do like a little 'crazy,' too. I don't know where the 'crazy' is going to come from, because David did supply 'crazy.' "