While the cities of Tampa and St. Petersburg are still battling one another over where the new baseball stadium will be located, the Rays made a big splash this past week, signing pitcher Zack Eflin to a three-year, 40 million-dollar contract.
This is the largest contract ever given by the Rays to a free agent and could be a sign of additional moves this week as the winter meetings begin in San Diego.
The 40 million dollar contract eclipses the $35 million contract that the Rays gave pitcher Wilson Alvarez before the 1998 season.
Eflin will make $11 million in 2023 and 2024 and then $25 million in 2025.
The 28-year-old has spent his entire career with the Phillies and helped them advance to the World Series last season, starting 13 games with 65 strikeouts and issuing just 15 walks.
Eflin has a career mark of 36-45 with a 4.49 ERA
The Rays were expected to sign a middle-of-the-rotation guy to round out the rotation of Tyler Glasnow, Shane McClanahan, Drew Rasmussen, and Jeffrey Springs.
Eflin suffers from chronic knee issues and spent three months on the injured list this past season. When he returned, Eflin went to the bullpen, pitching 18 1/3 innings with 21 strikeouts and a 2.45 ERA.
So, what about Eflin caused the Rays to fork over $40 million for three seasons?
He averages fewer than two walks per nine innings, does not give up a lot of hard-hit balls, and gets a ton of ground ball outs. He also successfully added a curveball to his pitching repertoire, as hitters hit just .155 against his curveball.
In addition to the curveball, Eflin uses four other pitches to get batters out. That includes a fastball, a changeup, a slider, and a cutter.
The Rays are now around $78 million in projected salary cap for the 2023 season. However, that is not far from their franchise-record $83 million from this past season.
In addition to a solid rotation, the Rays have great depth in Yonny Chirinos, Josh Fleming, Luis Patino, and Taj Bradley.
Single-game tickets are on sale now for all Rays home games in 2023.