David Price is the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner, the face of the Tampa Bay Rays, and the smiling, tweeting star chosen for the MLB 2K13 video game cover.

He’s also a Vanderbilt-educated realist.

“I do know this could be my last year here — or half-year, whatever it is,” Price acknowledged Tuesday, during an interview with FOXSports.com at the Rays’ spring complex. “I do realize that. (Until) that time gets a little bit closer, I’m not going to put any extra thought into it, because it doesn’t matter if I think about it or not.

“I have no say-so in what goes on the next three years of my career. It’s all up to the organization. I don’t think about it. If that’s what they feel they need to do, then they’ll do it.”

Price received a fresh reminder of that in December, when the Rays traded his close friend and fellow starter James Shields to the Kansas City Royals. Including a 2014 team option, the Rays held two years of control on Shields when they traded him. Price will be just as close to free agency when this season is over.

The Rays love Price. Price loves the Rays. But that’s not enough to make this a long-term marriage. The price of elite pitching is at an all-time high, as evidenced by Felix Hernandez’s $175 million deal. The Rays, stuck in fiscal purgatory without a new stadium, probably can’t afford a similar contract for Price in their current payroll structure. Price, who will earn slightly more than $10 million in base salary this season, said there is “nothing new” to report on the possibility of a multiyear extension.

All of this has put Price, 27, in a unique position: With Shields gone, he has become the staff’s veteran leader and unofficial caretaker of the Rays’ spring rituals. “He’s out there to maintain the traditions we’ve established and maybe add some of his own,” manager Joe Maddon observed. But even as Price becomes more integral to the team’s fabric, the left-hander knows he, too, may be called into a tearful meeting with Maddon and general manager Andrew Friedman during the next 12 months.