The Seattle Mariners made news before the potential MLB lockout, signing 2021 AL Cy Young award Winner, Robbie Ray, to a five-year $115M deal that includes an opt-out after the third season.
The Mariners overachieved in 2021, finishing 90-72, and were in the Wild Card hunt thanks to a strong second half.
Seattle is trending upwards with a strong farm system, and now they have added an Ace to their roster.
Robbie Ray has a career of 4.00 ERA, 4.04 FIP, 3.76 xFIP in eight major league seasons. However, he is coming off a breakout 2021 campaign where he won the 2021 CY Young award. He pitched to a 13-7 record with a 2.84 ERA, 3.60 xERA, 3.69 FIP, 3.36 xFIP, 3.21 SIERA, and a 154 ERA+.
This is a major signing for the Seattle Mariners, and it could signal their willingness to spend money this winter. Could they make another big signing?
Seattle Mariners Sign Robbie Ray
Robbie Ray Fantasy Preview
2021 ADP: 290
Career: 4.00 ERA, 4.04 FIP, 3.76 xFIP, 3.79 SIERA, 11.21 K/9, 3.94 BB/9
162 game averages: 11-10, 184 IP, 230 K
Ray will be drafted well ahead of his 2021 draft slot. It is just a question of how high he will go, and how much will the move to Seattle impact it. While the Mariners did win 90 games, most believe they overachieved in 2021. If that is true, and the Mariners regress to the mean, then it will put a ceiling on how many wins he can rack up.
The positive here is that Ray will now be pitching in a pitcher-friendly ballpark. He put together a career year while splitting time pitching in mostly hitter’s parks. Meaning, Ray could put together another great year ERA-wise, even with some regression factored in.
There should be some fear of regression, as he posted a 6.7 WAR in 2021, which makes the majority of his 15.1 career WAR. Maybe, the big ballpark in Seattle will keep the regression at bay.
The great thing about Ray is he has always been a big strikeout guy. His 11.54 K/9 and 32.1% strikeout rate are right in line with his career numbers of 11.21 K/9 and 29.2%. If healthy, Ray should strike out over 200 batters over a full season.
The biggest factor for Ray sustaining success will be limiting walks. In 2021, he had a 2.42 BB/9 and a 6.7% walk rate. This is much improved from his career numbers of 3.94 BB/9 and a 10.3% walk rate, but could this have been an outlier year in that department?
Even if his ERA regresses back into the mid 3s, he will still be a valuable option for Fantasy Baseball players.
Seattle Mariners Preview
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The Mariners’ rotation now has their Ace, and becomes somewhat of a weapon for the Mariners, especially if Logan Gilbert continues to develop. They also have some young arms in their minors that could make an impact soon.
The biggest question is how legit were the Mariners in 2021? They figured to be a year or two away from competing in 2021, but now they find themselves ahead of schedule.
If their top prospects turn into legit players, and they add another superstar, the Mariners might be a force in 2022. Especially if Ray pitches like his 2021 self for a few seasons.
The Astros will still be tough in the AL West, and now the Rangers are making noise. The Angels are stuck in purgatory for the time being but have two superstar players. The Athletics appear to be heading for a small rebuild. Could the Mariners take hold of this division starting in 2022?
Ray should be a solid fit in Seattle and should provide solid numbers for Fantasy Baseball managers. The biggest issue is will he return enough value to justify where he will be drafted?
The Seattle Mariners should be fun to watch in 2022. Maybe they really are America’s team?
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