MLB’s free agent frenzy continued on Monday afternoon as the Mariners came to an agreement on a five-year, $115 million deal with free agent left-hander Robbie Ray, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan:
Reigning AL Cy Young winner Robbie Ray and the Seattle Mariners are finalizing a five-year, $115 million contract with an opt-out after the third season, sources familiar with the deal tell ESPN.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) November 29, 2021
Ray, 30, has been rather inconsistent over an eight-year career spent mostly with the Diamondbacks, but when his mechanics are right he can be a frontline rotation option, as he showed with the Blue Jays in 2021. Over 32 starts, Ray led the AL in innings (193.1), ERA (2.84), and WHIP (1.05) while leading the majors with 248 strikeouts. He won the AL Cy Young Award in nearly unanimous fashion, earning 29 of 30 first-place votes.
The Mariners will hope that Ray, who is just one year removed from posting a 6.62 ERA between Arizona and Toronto during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, can maintain the form he displayed this year. If he can do that, he’ll be a massive addition to a rotation that lacked a true ace in 2021 and was headlined by Chris Flexen and Marco Gonzales.
The threat of a lockout later this week has accelerated the timeline of MLB free agency this offseason, and with Ray off the board, there’s almost no upper-echelon starting pitchers left on the market. Marcus Stroman and Clayton Kershaw are really the only free agents remaining who could potentially be top-of-the-rotation options on a contending team. We’ve seen a ton of free agent activity, especially among starting pitchers, with Max Scherzer joining the Mets, Kevin Gausman signing with the Blue Jays, Jon Gray going to the Rangers, Eduardo Rodríguez signing with the Tigers, Noah Syndergaard joining the Angels, and Justin Verlander returning to the Astros.