After all, the 30-year-old led the league in a handful of major categories in 2021.
But on Wednesday, Ray boosted his free-agent stock even more, as he took home Cy Young honors for the first time in his career.
Robbie Ray is the 2021 AL Cy Young winner.
He's the first Blue Jay to win since Roy Halladay 18 years ago. pic.twitter.com/zGALRZTPFn
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) November 17, 2021
By winning the award, the hurler now has yet another strong card to play in contract negotiations this winter.
Ray undoubtedly has a big payday in his future.
Pitchers Are Already Getting Paid Big Money This Offseason
Free agency just started, but we’ve already seen some major dominoes fall.
Interestingly, it seems like the majority of notable deals so far have involved starting pitchers, and many have been highly lucrative.
For instance, Eduardo Rodriguez received a five-year deal worth $77 million.
Noah Syndergaard, meanwhile, netted a one-year deal worth $21 million despite being a total wild card after Tommy John surgery.
Even Andrew Heaney — who posted a 5.83 ERA in 2021 — already landed a one-year deal worth $8.5 million.
Teams aren’t wasting any time when it comes to signing starting pitching this offseason, and they aren’t hesitating to pony up the dough, either.
A National League executive recently offered some insight into why teams are being so aggressive.
“I think one of the key drivers is the recognition that it will be very tough on clubs and agents to accomplish all of their offseason goals if they wait until a new [Collective Bargaining Agreement] is agreed upon,” the executive told MLB.com. “If there is a work stoppage, then the majority of what remains to the offseason will be limited to a few weeks’ stretch right before the potential start of Spring Training. That outcome would be rough for everyone — players, agents and front-office personnel.”
Needless to say, this all bodes very well for Ray, who will likely find himself on the receiving end of one of the biggest deals of the offseason.
After his stellar 2021 season, he deserves it.
Ray’s 2021 Campaign In Review
Ray came out of nowhere in 2021.
The southpaw entered the year with a career ERA of 4.26, and he was fresh off a 2020 season in which he posted a 6.62 ERA.
But the former 12th-round pick found a way to leave his struggles in the past, opening the door for a fantastic 2021 campaign.
Over 32 starts, he posted league-best marks in ERA (2.84), strikeouts (248), ERA+ (154), and WHIP (1.05).
He struck out 11.5 batters per nine innings and had a career-best strikeout-to-walk ratio of 4.77.
— MLB (@MLB) November 17, 2021
He also racked up an extremely impressive bWAR of 6.7.
MVP results will be revealed soon, and it wouldn’t come as a total surprise to see Ray’s name on some ballots.
His value metrics are certainly good enough.
Wherever this guy lands in 2022, he’s likely going to make a team very happy.
The market for Ray figures to be absurdly competitive, and there are already multiple teams being linked to him.
Robbie Ray’s market sounds like Angels, Mariners, Blue Jays. Yankees have shown interest in past. Eyes on beating the Zack Wheeler contract 5-$118M.
Perhaps 4-$100M then player option on 5th. A team that goes 6 Yrs probably lands Ray. Most believe in the breakout.
— MLBExecutiveBurner (@HotStoveintel) November 10, 2021
In the end, it might come down to a bidding war.
However, it’s possible Ray cares most about landing with a contending team, as he’s still looking for the first World Series ring of his career.
We’ll see what happens as the offseason continues.