Blue Jays: What’s it going to cost to extend Robbie Ray?
How much will Ray get as a free agent?
This is the part where I’m doing nothing more than taking an educated guess. As I mentioned, Ray’s agent could go as far as pointing to a reasonable comp with Zack Wheeler at the time that he fit free agency, which means he might ask for 5 years and 100 million or more. I don’t think they’ll get that much, but I don’t think it’s impossible either.
As for the Blue Jays, I sincerely believe that they’ll make a legitimate offer to retain Ray. I don’t think they’ll pull out all the stops to bring him back for a second time, but as long as the bidding doesn’t get out of hand then I expect they’ll be a strong suitor. It’s possible they see Jose Berrios as a replacement for Ray in the event that he leaves, but the rotation would be that much more dominant with both of them along with Ryu and Alek Manoah.
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Getting back to my guess, I think Ray will fall short of a five-year deal given his track record, and I believe that will keep the Blue Jays in on the bidding for his services. As for a rate, here’s my official guess, so feel free to bookmark this so you can come back to it in six months and ridicule me.
4 years, 70 million
With an AAV of 17.5 million, that would put Ray right in the same ballpark as the Bumgarner contract, only with one less year. It would actually put him quite close to the contract that Ryu was handed two years ago, but justifiably a little short of the mark. It would be far less than Wheeler was able to get from the Phillies, but I’m not sure we’ll see teams spending like that in free agency this winter, even if the league has been able to play a full season during the Covid-19 pandemic. Crowd sizes have still been mostly reduced, which means profits are down, and there are still the dreaded CBA negotiations to go through as well. As good as Ray has been, none of that will work in his favour.
The more important question is, will the Blue Jays be willing to pay that kind of rate to retain him? Assuming Ray can finish the 2021 campaign the way that he’s performed so far, I believe they will. There are a lot of moving parts, such as extensions for guys like Jose Berrios, or maybe even Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette, but Ray and the Blue Jays have been a great match so far, and I’m willing to bet they’ll find a way to keep the relationship going.