Blue Jays: Robbie Ray and the Blue Jays agree on a 1 year, $8M deal
The Blue Jays have struck early in free agency, re-signing Robbie Ray to a one-year deal and hoping he can continue to trend toward his former self.
The Blue Jays are the first to strike this offseason, signing Robbie Ray to a one-year, $8 million deal as per Jeff Passan of ESPN. Robbie Ray is coming off a terrible season, with an ERA of 6.62 and 45 walks in 51.2 IP.
Re-signing Robbie Ray was a decent move for this Jays club, but the question is whether he is actually worth $8 million. His numbers were quite ugly last year, but there is also an argument to be made that a small sample size of 11 starts in a shortened season doesn’t do the southpaw any justice.
Between Ray’s All-Star 2017 season and the 2018-19 campaigns, he boasted a modest 3.72 ERA in 85 starts with an eye-popping K/9 of 12.1. If his 2020 numbers were just the product of a small sample size then the Jays are getting a steal of a deal, but if his numbers don’t wind up fixing themselves in a bigger sample size, then the Jays are overpaying for Robbie Ray. Albeit, $8 million is not enough to cash strap a team in baseball terms, especially a team owned by a massive public company (Rogers Communications). At this point the question for Blue Jays fans is whether or not Ray’s numbers were only inflated because of a bad stretch in a small sample size.
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Robbie Ray’s general player profile fits the bill for the Blue Jays MO in their rotation, namely to have guys who consistently eat innings to take pressure off the bullpen and spot starters. Excluding the shortened 2020 campaign, Robbie Ray threw at least 123.2 IP between 2015 and 2019. This is similar to the last offseason’s signing of Tanner Roark and acquisition of Chase Anderson. Between Roark, Anderson and Ray, all are starting pitchers with modest career ERA’s between the high 3’s and low 4’s and an ability to throw a lot of innings.
At just 29 years old, this upcoming season will be crucially important for Ray to secure a more sizeable contract next year. For Ray, this is an opportunity to rebuild his value and put 2020 behind him going into 2021. A good season in 2021 should help nullify his abysmal 2020 performance and net a multi-year deal. However, another bad season could make Robbie Ray the newest journeyman in MLB.
The quick movement on the hot stove could be a sign of more to come for the Blue Jays. They are coming off their first winning season after three losing ones and looking to increase their payroll. In 2017, coming off back to back ALCS appearances, the Jays ranked 7th in baseball with a total payroll of about $175 million dollars. Presently, the Jays have a much more favourable aging curve with respect to performance, and look to have an offseason that starts to inch their payroll towards the upper tiers of the league. Mark Shapiro recently told Sportsnet, “The resources are going to be there to add in a meaningful way and we’ll conduct this offseason much like last offseason”. This statement indicates that a marquee acquisition, much like Hyun Jin Ryu last season, will be the expectation again.
For the sake of Jays fans, hopefully this Robbie Ray signing is just the calm before the storm.