The Seattle Mariners made their first free agent signing of the offseason on Monday by adding Robbie Ray on a reported 5 year contract worth $115 million. The Mariners will pay Robbie Ray $23 million per year for the length of the contract (unless the money is unequally spread out over the 5 years), and there is a reported opt-out after the third year of the contract. This is a huge deal for the Mariners, who add the 2021 American League Cy Young Award winner.
The Mariners land their front line pitcher in Ray, who posted a 6.7 WAR season in 2021, according to Baseball Reference. He truly had a breakout season for the Blue Jays last year, leading the American League with 193 and 1/3 innings, and also struck out 248 batters, which led all of Major League Baseball. Ray struck out over 32 percent of batters, which was Ray’s highest mark since 2017, and led the A.L. with a 154 ERA+.
Robbie Ray gives the Mariners a number one starting pitcher for their rotation. He is not always an ace like Max Scherzer or Jacob DeGrom, but he can perform like one of the absolute best pitchers in the game at times. Ray most likely had an outlier season last year, and it is pretty unlikely that the Mariners get over 6 wins above replacement for all 5 seasons. However, if Ray gives the Mariners 4 WAR each year, it will still be a great deal.
The contract itself does not hurt the Mariners at all. They were rumored to be in on Kevin Gausman and are only going to pay $5 million more for Robbie Ray. It will give the Mariners more flexibility to get more free agents such as Kris Bryant or Javier Baez, who have been rumored to be linked to the Mariners.
Since there is an opt-out after 3 years, it is possible that this is only a 3 year $66 million deal for Ray. This signing is an absolute win for the Mariners as they add their front line starter and show everyone that they’re serious about winning, which could help bring in more free agents.