The Tampa Bay Rays have largely been known to be quite frugal, favoring development within their own organization to spending money on free-agency talent. Tampa Bay deviated from the norm on Thursday by making a big splash to bolster their pitching staff involving free agent pitcher Zach Eflin.
According to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, the Rays and Eflin have agreed to a three-year contract worth $40 million.
This contract marks the largest that the organization has ever given to a free agent.
#Rays have a 3-year deal with RHP Zach Eflin for $40M – largest contract they have given a free agent. Agreement 1st reported by @JeffPassan
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) December 2, 2022
While the Rays did not have the year they quite expected this past season, they have made it a point of building toward the future.
The organization locked up star shortstop Wander Franco on a massive 11-year $182 million contract extension last November that will keep him in Tampa through at least the 2032 season.
Zach Eflin is coming off a 2022 campaign that saw him come out of the bullpen for the Philadelphia Phillies for the first time in his career. He made 20 appearances and 13 starts. Combined, he had a 4.52 ERA, 1.123 WHIP and 65 strikeouts in 75.2 innings.
Tampa has been known to be untraditional in its approach to a pitching staff, often using an “opener” out of the bullpen to start games and pitch for a couple of innings before a starter comes into the game, in a long relief role.
Eflin could ideally thrive in either an opener or long relief role for the organization, and this could be a signing that is looked back at as an underrated move in this MLB offseason.
[Marc Topkin on Twitter]