This past offseason, the Blue Jays decided to sign free-agent pitcher Kevin Gausman while letting Robbie Ray, the reigning AL Cy Young winner, sign with the Seattle Mariners. Despite Ray finishing the 2021 season with the lowest ERA and most strikeouts in the American League, the Blue Jays decided to swap out the 30-year-old for the 31-year-old Gausman. As a result, the Kevin Gausman contract is looking like a steal for the Blue Jays while the Robbie Ray contract might be a burden in Seattle.
The New Blue Jays Ace
Last year, Kevin Gausman was one of the best pitchers in the National League. The Giants relied heavily on their ace who helped to lead the team to the best record in baseball. Surprisingly, San Francisco decided to let him leave and instead signed Carlos Rodón.
Since signing with Toronto, Gausman has been one of the best pitchers in the American League. While he has had a bit of bad luck in the win/loss column (5-5 on the year) he has pitched to a 2.67 ERA while accumulating 77 strikeouts and only 10 walks in 70.2 innings. Gausman has nearly matched his strikeouts per nine innings from his best years in San Francisco while walking fewer batters per nine innings than any other season.
With Kevin Gausman leading the Blue Jays rotation, Toronto appears to have their ace locked up for four more seasons while looking to compete in the AL East. Meanwhile, at 5 years and $110 million, the Kevin Gausman contract is looking like a steal. Because Gausman had been offered a Qualifying Offer in a previous offseason, the Blue Jays did not lose a draft pick with the Kevin Gausman contract.
Seattle’s Newest Blunder?
While the Blue Jays turned to Kevin Gausman, the Mariners were also looking for their next ace. Seattle jumped at the opportunity to sign the Blue Jays former ace and the Robbie Ray contract was signed early in the offseason.
Since signing with the Mariners, Robbie Ray has been a bit of a disaster. Ray is 5-6 on the season with an ERA just under 5. He is currently averaging the fewest amount of strikeouts in a season since 2015 while his walks are up since last season.
Similar to Gausman, the Robbie Ray contract is also for 5 years for only $5 million more a season. While there is still plenty of time left on the contract, the early returns are extremely disappointing for both Ray and the Mariners.
While Robbie Ray’s hard-hit percentage is almost the same as his Cy Young season, he has badly regressed with leaving runners on base. In 2021, he was able to strand 90% of runners that reached while this year he is only stranding 72.9% which is just slightly below his numbers from his time in Arizona.
With the Mariners surprisingly struggling, Ray’s performance has been especially disappointing.
Finally, the last thing to note with the Robbie Ray contract is the presence of a Qualifying Offer. Not only did the Blue Jays get what appears to be the better of the two players, but because of the rules around qualifying offers, the Blue Jays will receive a draft pick for losing Ray.
Do you think the Robbie Ray contract will be a burden for Seattle? Do you think the Kevin Gausman contract will set up the Blue Jays for a deep playoff run? Let us know in the comments below!
Main image credit Embed from Getty Images