During an offseason in which they intended to spend more than in years, but hadn’t seemed to find many players wanting to take their money, the Mariners finally joined Major League Baseball’s free-agent frenzy of the past three days, Monday afternoon, by adding the reigning American League Cy Young winner to their starting rotation.
MLB sources confirmed a report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan that the Mariners had reached an agreement on a five-year, $115 million contract with left-hander Robbie Ray.
An official announcement on the signing could come as soon as Tuesday afternoon. Sources said Ray was flying to Seattle on Monday evening and would undergo a physical on Tuesday morning before signing a contract that includes an opt-out clause after three years and also other bonuses.
Ray, who turned 30 on Oct. 1, posted a 13-7 record with a 2.84 ERA in 32 starts. In 193 1/3 innings pitched, he racked up 248 strikeouts with only 52 walks with a 1.045 WHIP (walks plus hits over innings pitched). Per Fangraphs’ wins above replacement, his 3.9 WAR was sixth most in AL starters. His 32 starts tied for most in the AL while he led the league in innings pitched, ERA, strikeouts and WHIP.
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He narrowly missed out on being a unanimous selection for the Cy Young award, garnering 29 of 30 first-place votes with Gerrit Cole getting the other first-place vote.
It was significant bounce-back season for Ray, who struggled in the shortened 2020 season. He made seven starts for the Diamondbacks, posting a 1-4 record and a 7.84 ERA. He was traded to the Blue Jays at midseason and made four starts and a relief appearance, finishing with a 1-1 record and 4.79 ERA with Toronto. He signed a one-year, $8 million contract with the Blue Jays for the 2021 season. Reverting to a more coiled delivery that he used to become an All-Star in 2017 with the Diamondbacks, Ray saw some command return to his swing and miss stuff. He lowered his walk rate from a career-worst 17.9 percent in 2020 to a career-best 6.7 percent in 2021.