The Rays have signed 2018 AL Cy Young winner Blake Snell to a new five-year, $50 million contract through the 2023 season, as the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin and ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported first on Thursday. The deal doesn’t include any option years:
BREAKING: #Rays sign Cy Young winner Blake Snell to 5-year, $50 million guaranteed contract. Starts this year, includes all of arbitration and first of his free-agent years.— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) March 21, 2019
Blake Snell's deal will cover this season, his three arbitration years and one season of free agency. It's the biggest deal ever given to a player with two years of service, topping Gio Gonzalez's $42M deal as a Super 2 and Corey Kluber's $38.5M deal, which included two options.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 21, 2019
This is, to say the least, a surpising development, considering that the Rays renewed Snell’s contract — giving him a raise of only $15,500 — the spring after he became only the second Cy Young winner in franchise history. Snell openly expressed his disappointment about the decision in an interview with Topkin, saying, “If that’s what they want to do, that’s what they can do. ... It all comes around in the end anyway.”
Now, Snell will give up his first free-agent year to — in theory — stay in Tampa for the long term. It’s a huge coup for the Rays, who will get a lefty who posted a league-best 1.89 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP with 11 strikeouts and 3.2 walks per nine innings last year.
For what it’s worth, this extension by no means guarantees that Snell will actually remain in Tampa well into the next decade, as the Rays have a history of signing pitchers to team-friendly long-term deals and then trading them before the contracts expire. Chris Archer was dealt last summer while in the midst of a six-year deal with two club options, while Matt Moore was traded to the Giants in 2016 while in the middle of a five-year contract with three club options. The Rays also dealt all of Jeremy Hellickson, David Price, Erasmo Ramirez, Nate Karns, and Drew Smyly before they reached free agency for the first time.