M's sign reigning Cy Young champ Ray
New Mariner Robbie Ray led the American League in strikeouts and ERA in 2021
November 29, 2021
Seattle General Manager Jerry Dipoto struck again today, landing one of the biggest free-agent pitchers on the market for Your Seattle Mariners. Left-hander Robbie Ray, winner of the 2021 American League Cy Young Award, will join the M's on a five-year pact as soon as he clears medical evaluations. (UPDATE, 11/30/21: The deal is now official.)
Ray, 30, had a career-best season in 2021, posting a less-than-exceptional 13-7 record but leading the league in ERA (2.84), WHIP (1.045), strikeouts (248), and innings pitched (1931⁄3) for a Toronto club that won 91 games. He was a near-unanimous choice for the Cy Young (29 of 30 first-place votes) and even got votes for Most Valuable Player. It was the second season of Ray's career that saw him garner Cy Young votes, as he finished seventh in NL Cy Young balloting in 2017 while with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Assuming the medical exams go well and the contract is made official, the Mariners will pay Ray an average annual salary of $23 million, making him by far the highest-paid player currently in the Mariner fold (next-highest would be Mitch Haniger and the newly-acquired Adam Frazier, both awaiting final contract values via the arbitration system and both assumed to be in the vicinity of $7-9 million). That may change as the offseason continues and other free agents come aboard or trades are made. Ray's contract allows him to opt out after three years if he so chooses and includes a full no-trade clause for the first two years and an unspecified reassignment payment should he be traded after that period.
The addition gives the Mariners a presumed starting rotation in 2022 of Ray, Marco Gonzales, Chris Flexen, and Logan Gilbert, with a fifth slot to be decided. In-house options for that role include Justus Sheffield, Justin Dunn, and four or five minor-league prospects that could conceivably make a push in spring training. Dipoto is also known to have inquired about Cincinnati pitcher Luis Castillo and has expressed at least some interest in Oakland All-Star pitcher Chris Bassitt, while the free-agent market still includes plenty of options.