Blue Jays re-sign Robbie Ray
Free agency, and player movement in general, has been slow moving in this very early portion of the offseason, which doesn’t come as too much of a surprise. Things have been trending towards slower movement in recent years, and the uncertainty following the shortened, fanless 2020 season only makes things more fraught. We finally got a signing on Saturday, though, in what was certainly the biggest news in North America for the weekend. The Blue Jays brought back left-handed pitcher Robbie Ray for a one-year deal worth $8 million.
This affects the Red Sox on a couple of fronts. The first is that Ray was one of many mid-tier (at best) starters that were on the market. Given how many starters the Red Sox could be looking for this winter, someone of his caliber was likely to be on their radar. Personally, I was never all that interested in this possibility so I’m not overly concerned about him coming off the board. The upside with Ray is clear as he gets a ton of strikeouts from the left side, consistently sitting around or above 30 percent with his strikeout rate every year. However, he has major trouble throwing strikes, finishing 2020 with a walk rate of nearly 18 percent and a career rate of 11 percent. The southpaw has been able to work around those control issues at times, including a really strong run in 2017 and 2018, but for me personally the walk rate is just something I’d prefer to avoid.
Along with that angle, though, it’s also a team in the Red Sox division, and not just any team. We all know Boston has a long way to go to get back to contention, but they should at least be competent in 2021. That can mean a few breaks away from a postseason spot. There’s too much uncertainty with their roster to talk about their positioning in the American League beyond a broad point of view, but if they are to take a leap into playoff contention that almost certainly puts them on a collision course with the Blue Jays. Toronto (or Buffalo or wherever they are in 2021) is going to be a key team to watch this offseason for Red Sox fans.
I should also mention Ray’s contract of one year and $8 million comes close to expectations. MLB Trade Rumors had him projected for one year and $6 million while FanGraphs readers projected two years and $17.3 million, for an average annual value of $8.7 million.