So let us get this straight: The Tampa Bay Rays, who won the American League in 2020 and clearly had one of the best rosters top to bottom in all of baseball, are waving the white flag for 2021? That’s what it feels like after what they’ve done this offseason.
First, they deemed Charlie Morton’s $15 million team option too pricey and cut him loose. OK, that made some sense. Still not really acceptable for the 2020 runners up, but that’s besides the point. Then, the front office went ahead and traded Blake Snell to the San Diego Padres for a haul of prospects that didn’t really blow anyone away. He was set to make just $10.5 million in 2021.
Now? NOW? They went out and signed Chris Archer to a one-year, $6.5 million deal. Yup, $4 million less than what Snell would’ve made for a guy who didn’t pitch in 2020, owned a ghastly 5.19 ERA and 1.41 WHIP in 23 starts back in 2019, and underwent the dreaded thoracic outlet surgery that season, which has kept him out of action since.
Just hand the AL East to the New York Yankees already, why don’t you?
Also, in case you’re unaware, thoracic outlet surgery is one of the hardest procedures for pitchers to bounce back from, yet the Rays, who NEVER dish out money, are giving Archer a fairly sizable one-year deal for such a gamble. We would’ve expected something like this from the Dodgers.
So far, they’ve replaced Snell and Morton with Archer and Michael Wacha. Perhaps they’re high on Shane McClanahan, Brent Honeywell and Luis Patiño, but that’s not a surefire recipe to contend. They also lost important bullpen pieces in Aaron Loup and Jose Alvarado. Though their lineup has remained largely the same with the exception of Hunter Renfroe departing for Boston, it’s the Rays’ pitching that propels them each and every year.
What’s best about all of this, though? The Rays are ending up with Archer after attempting to steal Corey Kluber and Jameson Taillon from the Bombers. We know the Rays punked us last year, but this is already feeling like sweet revenge.
Enjoy third place in 2021, Tampa.