Mark Prior will stay in Tampa strictly because of the weather. The Yankees want him to pitch more than one inning at a time, and they want him to get into back-to-back games, and when it gets warmer, he’ll go north to join (probably) Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Prior has an opt-out in his contract that kicks in mid-summer. He wasn’t sure of the exact date, but he said it’s not something he’s thinking about. All along he’s expected to be assigned to the minor leagues for a while to build innings.
The Yankees seem to be handling Prior with kid gloves which is probably a smart move considering how many times he’s been injured over the past few years. So this spring training has pretty much been time for him to show the Yankees that he’s healthy and they are going to now prepare him for pitching in the season as if he’s just starting spring training now.
Prior not wanting to opt out of the deal is probably just him being realistic. He knows that he’ll have a good chance to make it to the majors as long as he’s healthy. So that’s what he’s focused on. Worrying about the Yankees not calling him up and opting out of his deal seems to be a distraction that would only keep him from getting back to the majors. All along Prior has had the right attitude. He has assumed nothing and has said all along that he expects to spend time in the minors. Nothing has changed and he is not looking to switch organizations just for a faster route to the big leagues.