The Tampa Bay Rays dived into free agency to solidify their rotation. The Rays and right-wing Zach Eflin have agreed on a three-year contract worth $40 million. ESPN and New York Post. The team has not yet confirmed the signature.
Eflin, 28, spent the first seven seasons of his MLB career with the Philadelphia Phillies. He’s had a start in his career, but he worked outside of bullfighting late last season and throughout the postseason because his return from a knee injury in September didn’t allow enough time to stretch him all the way to the start. Eflin is expected to join Tampa’s rotation.
The $40 million guarantee is one of the largest in the history of the Rays franchise, and the largest they’ve ever given a free agent signing from another team. Largest free player transfers by total guarantee in team history:
- Zach Eflin, December 2022: 3 years, $40 million
- Wilson Alvarez, December 1997: 5 years 35 million dollars
- Greg Vaughn, December 1999: 4 years, $34 million
- Charlie Morton, December 2018: 2 years, $30 million
Eflin will essentially replace veteran right-wingers Corey Kluber in Tampa’s rotation, alongside lefties Shane McClanahan and Jeffrey Springs, and right-wingers Tyler Glasnow and Drew Rasmussen. Lets Luis Pátino and Yonny Chirinos with left-handed Josh Fleming will serve as depth. Hard-hitting right-back Shane Baz will miss the season because of Tommy John’s surgery.
Last season, Eflin hit 75 2/3 with a 4.04 ERA around injuries. He has largely had an average start in the league over the past few seasons, although he has occasionally pitched at a higher level.. Here is his post:
Studies have found that individuals who endure near-death experiences often change their lives in a positive way. Eflin’s move to the arena at the end of the season wasn’t nearly as traumatic as going back and forth between the physical and spiritual realms, but you still wonder if that will push him in a better direction. This need not lead to him becoming a full-time assistant; Let’s face it, there is more money to be made to start games and teams have overlooked worse durability problems. (He hit 130+ hits in just one major league season.) This could simply mean that Eflin embraced the platinum-curve-breaker trio that led to his bullfighting success rather than returning to his old starting arsenal. We’ll see.
FanGraphs estimates Tampa’s Opening Day 2023 payroll with Eflin at $80.4 million. They opened last season with a franchise record of $83 million. The Rays were reportedly in contact with Jacob deGrom recently to base, but given their budget this is unlikely to happen and they have apparently moved on to Eflin.
Tampa won 86-76 in 2022 and was swept in two games by the Cleveland Guardians in the Wild Card Series.