Robbie Ray's Three Potential Landing Spots in Free Agency


He's the odds-on favorite to win the American League Cy Young Award, and he's got a case as the best free agent pitcher this side of Max Scherzer. Ray's career had been on a downward spiral up to and including 2020, but the Toronto Blue Jays took a chance on him, with an $8M one-year contract. That deal paid big dividends for the Jays with Ray's Cy-caliber season, and now Ray himself will earn the spoils, with a massive free agent contract. 

The 30-year-old became baseball's all-time leader in strikeouts-per-9-innings this season (11.2), and set the MLB record for most Ks in a pitcher's first 1,000 innings. His 13-7 record, 2.84 ERA and 248 strikeouts were all career bests. But which team will shell out to see if Ray can deliver some repeat performances over the next few seasons? 

1. New York Yankees

If there's an ace pitcher on the market, count on the Yankees to be one of the top pursuers. They recently signed Gerrit Cole to a 9-year, $324M contract, so you know they're willing to pay for ace pitching. 

Their rotation was a little questionable over the course of the 2021 season, having to rely on comeback candidates (Corey Kluber, Jameson Taillon) and young unproven arms (Luis Gil, Nestor Cortes), when Cole wasn't on the mound. 

2. Toronto Blue Jays

After a 2020 season that saw Ray hit rock bottom, posting a 6.62 ERA and allowing nearly 8 walks per 9 innings, the Blue Jays believed in Ray, and gave him $8M to see if he could turn it around. There's something to be said for their belief in him, but when nine-figure contracts are waved under your nose, loyalty only goes so far. The Jays will have to pony up if they are to keep him. 

As team president Mark Shapiro has already acknowledged, Ray has earned the right to test the market as a free agent, and he doesn't expect a quick resolution. "It's going to require patience," said Shapiro, "it's going require us exploring alternatives."

3. (tie) St. Louis Cardinals

Desperate to keep up with the Big 3 of the Milwaukee Brewers rotation, the Cardinals already have Jack Flaherty and Adam Wainwright (assuming the former is healthy, and the latter doesn't retire). 

In addition, according to Bleacher Report, the Cardinals had the lowest strikeouts-per-nine of any starting rotation in baseball. Wouldn't Ray be a nice correction for that trend?

3. (tie) Los Angeles Angels

Outside of Shohei Ohtani, the Angels' pitching was a disaster—again—in 2021. Their team ERA ranked 22nd in baseball at 4.69, and that was their best finish in three years. 

The pressure is on for this franchise to field a team that can finally get generational superstars Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani into the playoffs. And it's not like they're averse to spending money in free agency. They gave $245M to 3B Anthony Rendon in 2020, and who could ever forget the 10-year, $240M albatross they signed Albert Pujols to? 

At just 30-year-old next season, Ray should be able to secure deal worth well over $100M, in the $20M/year range.

Photo Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports