When the Blue Jays acquired Jose Berrios from the Minnesota Twins on Friday, it was a major step forward for the starting rotation. Over the offseason the front office did their best to find another top-tier starting pitcher to join Hyun Jin Ryu at the top of the rotation, and they finally got their man in Berrios. That said, they’ve been fortunate enough to have another elite performance or two from their starters, and one of them is due to be a free agent again at the end of the year.
Things went so well for Robbie Ray during his short stint with the Blue Jays in 2020 that he decided to quickly re-sign on a one year, eight million dollar contract last offseason. It was one of the first free agent contracts agreed to across the league, and it was clear that there was something positive for Ray and the Blue Jays to build on, and hopefully help the 29 year old re-establish himself as the type of arm every team wants on their roster. Ray has been that guy before in his career, especially when he was an NL All-Star in 2017, and felt like he was on the path to rediscovering that form.
So far that’s exactly what we’ve seen from the hard-throwing southpaw in 2021, so much so that there’s an argument that he’s been the staff race. He’s currently 9-5 with a 3.04 ERA and a 1.065 WHIP, also wracking up 150 strikeouts over 118.1 innings. His work with pitching coach Pete Walker has lead to the lowest walk rate of his career, and it’s transformed Ray into a new pitcher.
With that in mind, there’s next to no chance that the Blue Jays will get him back for 2022 and beyond at just eight million per season. But what would it take to sign Ray? There’s a chance that he likes the fit so much that he might give the Jays a slight discount, but this will also be his best chance to cash in as a free agent in the big leagues. At the very least the Jays are going to have to make a competitive offer.