The Tampa Bay Rays had said that they know they need to change their ways. While that statement was specifically focused on the lineup, it appears as though the Rays are applying that mindset to other areas of the roster as well.
Such is the case with Zack Eflin. He signed a three year, $40 million contract with the Rays on Thursday, adding another piece to what could be a formidable rotation. But Eflin also is a sign that things may actually be changing in Tampa Bay.
Tampa Bay Rays actually opening the checkbook
While Eflin’s contract is relatively modest compared to other free agent signings, it is a big deal for the Rays. That deal marks the largest contract for a free agent in franchise history, surpassing a five year, $35 million contract handed to Wilson Alvarez during their inaugural 1998 season.
The Rays have handed out larger contracts than what they gave Alvarez. Their two extensions with Evan Longoria were worth far more than they handed Eflin. Wander Franco still holds the franchise record for the largest contract. In fact, Eflin’s deal is only the fifth largest contract in team history.
But this is about the message being sent. The Rays have been a perennial playoff contender for years but have been unable to bring a championship home. Eflin clearly will not help their issues with the lineup, but he will make what should be a solid rotation even better.
And that is the key. Rays ownership is starting to spend some money, albeit a modest amount, in an attempt to bring that championship to town. They may not break the bank and suddenly jump into the Aaron Judge or Carlos Correa markets, but they could go after that second or third tier. Trades could also happen as they look to bring in some salary, such as a possible deal with the A’s for Sean Murphy. Maybe a new day is finally dawning for the Rays.
The Tampa Bay Rays have handed out their largest free agent contract in franchise history. Maybe things are finally starting to change.