The argument for re-signing Robbie Ray
The Blue Jays have made it clear that they are big fans of Robbie Ray and would like to have him back, and I’m confident they’ll make a legitimate effort to do just that. With that in mind, let’s run down the reasons why the Jays should be ready to open their chequebook for the 30 year old fireballer.
Let’s begin with the Cy Young level performance he just put up in his first full season as a Blue Jay. He finished 13-7 and led the American League in ERA (2.84), WHIP (1.045), starts (32), innings pitched (193.1), strikeouts (248), and ERA+ (154). He had long teased pitching coaches and scouts with his potential, but had never been able to harness his control enough to realize it fully. In 2021 that finally came together, and his Walk Percentage down to 6.7% from a high of 17.9% in 2020, and even 10.7% during his NL All-Star season in 2017.
In my mind, I believe that Ray’s transformation is legitimate, even if he may have just put up the best single season of his career. He might not meet the same numbers again, but I still think he can be a #1-2 level pitcher, and someone who can make a significance difference in the Blue Jays rotation. He’s also shown a tremendous commitment to his personal fitness, which bodes well as he enters his thirties and the back half of his career.
They’ve had a season and a half to work together, so I’m sure both parties know that the fits works well. Ray is a fan favourite among Blue Jays fans, and I imagine his adoring fan base will only continue to grow now that folks are able to return to the Rogers Centre in Toronto.
The Blue Jays also have a need at the top of their rotation, at least if they want to be the true World Series contenders that they hope to be. Jose Berrios gives them a top-shelf starter, but he’s only under contract for one more season at the moment, with no guarantee that he’ll return on a new deal. Alek Manoah had an incredible rookie season, but expecting him to immediately step in as a #2 might be a bit much to ask. Hyun Jin Ryu looks like his days as a borderline ace might be behind him, even if he should still find a way to make above-average contributions.
Bringing back Ray would take the unit from good to great, regardless of who they bring in to round out the back of the rotation now that Steven Matz is also a free agent. It’s a partnership that’s already proven to work very well, and even if it’s going to cost a lot more this time around, it’s a price tag that could turn out to be very worth paying.