2. Giving Robbie Ray’s Money to Justin Verlander — for Longer!
Why, exactly, is Robbie Ray more likely to be effective than 39-year-old Justin Verlander in 2022? It’s just the age gap and the Tommy John rehab, right?
We’ll grant you that it’s probably preferable to have Ray in April and May. But in October, who do you want? And the same likely holds true for Verlander’s option year, too.
In that case … why would you pay Ray the money he’s begging for coming off his career year in 2021 for 2022, 2023, 2024, 2025, and 2026 — at the absolute minimum? Ray will never again be in this position of bargaining power. Why would you give into his demands, after an outlier season, but wouldn’t budge on the length of your commitment to Verlander?
And yet, here we are, reading again about how the Yankees might pivot from chasing a shortstop to adding a “No. 2” starter. How many more of those, other than Ray and Kevin Gausman, are still on the market?
Ray has the strikeout rate to theoretically build on his Cy Young-winning 2021 season, but he also has very little track record of keeping his walks to a minimum. Toronto worked some organizational magic on him on a one-year bounce back last season, and it paid off — for both parties.
Don’t let yourselves be the team to overpay Ray for recent past performance, especially if your budget’s not as endless as you made it out to be in mid-October. Two years of Verlander would’ve been preferable to six years of Ray. Six years of any of the top-tier shortstops, plus a center fielder, plus a first baseman would be preferable to both volatile hurlers.