We used this idea last year. The idea is to go through some of the top free agents, use the contract FanGraphs suggests they will get and have a poll asking if we would like to sign him for that amount.
You know the story, Ray was always able to strike guys out, but he also walked far too many. This year, after putting on some muscle in the off-season, he walked far fewer and won the Cy Young award.
He was terrific all season. How much of the improvement is because of Pete Walker’s help is anyone’s guess.
Ray turned 30 in October, which might limit the number of years a team would be willing to offer. I think Ray will age well, but then I’m not sure I’d want to give him an 8-year contract to test out that theory.
He has made physical and mechanical changes and is now throwing harder and throwing more strikes – he went from 41.6 percent of his fastballs being called balls last year to just 29.8 percent this year. His slider was the ninth most valuable among major-league starters in 2021, according to FanGraphs’ pitch values, and his fastball was sixth-most, a function of his nearly 2:1 ratio of fastballs to sliders. I can understand some trepidation about investing long term in a guy who just walked almost a player an inning a year ago, but everything about Ray looks real and sustainable, and someone should be willing to go five years with him.
About that: he stopped walking people this year. “Continue striking everyone out but cut out the walks” is a neat trick — every big league pitcher would do it if they could. Ray cut his walk rate literally in half, posting a 6.9% rate after a profligate 2020. He also struck out 32.1% of his opponents, the second-best mark of his career. All the strikeouts, none of the walks? It’s clear why Ray was so effective.
Every team shopping at the top of the free agent market will want Ray. Is there a chance he reverts to his previous form? Sure. But if this year’s command improvements even half-stick, he’ll be a top-of-the-rotation starter for years to come.
Ben’s guess at what Ray will get for a contract is four years at $28 million a year, for a total of $112 million. That’s $3 million a year more than he suggested Marcus Stroman would get in a 4-year contract. I kind of think the team that gets him will offer a fifth year on the contract.
If he gets a $100 million + contract, can we still call him Robbie, or if you make that much money, are you automatically a Robert?
Should the Jays sign Robbie Ray if the price is 4 years at $28 per year?
Probably, but I’m not enthusiastic about it
Probably not, but I wouldn’t hate it
No, absolutely not
Will Ray get
4 years or less
5 years or more