The Rays have offered right-hander Jake Odorizzi a contract extension, agent Jason Wood confirms to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter links 1, 2, 3, 4). Topkin notes that the timing of the offer is interesting, because Odorizzi could also be part of trade talks with the Cubs as the Rays search for a hitter. (Presumably, if a contract is agreed to between the two sides, Odorizzi would want assurance that he won’t immediately be traded.)
Wood called Tampa Bay’s offer a “very nice initial offer,” says Topkin, adding that the agent said there are “lots of reasons” to continue the dialogue. Wood says there’s mutual interest and is working on a counter-offer for the Rays, whose initial offer is believed to include multiple option years, per Topkin. That’s been standard operating procedure for the Rays over the years, who locked up Evan Longoria, Matt Moore and Chris Archer to contracts that each include at least two option seasons early in each player’s career (albeit, earlier in their respective careers than Odorizzi is at present).
Odorizzi, 26 in March, has pitched well for the Rays in each of the past two seasons, though he missed some time in 2015 due to an oblique strain and was thus limited to 169 1/3 innings. Odorizzi doesn’t throw particularly hard, averaging about 91 mph with his fastball, but he’s shown an ability to pick up strikeouts at an above-average clip nonetheless. Over his past 337 1/3 innings (2014-15), Odorizzi has a 3.74 ERA with 8.6 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9. A pronounced fly-ball pitcher, Odorizzi does have a rather low 33.5 percent ground-ball rate in that time.
Originally acquired from the Royals in the James Shields/Wil Myers trade (though I submit that the trade should be referred to as the Wade Davis/Jake Odorizzi swap, personally), Odorizzi is not yet arbitration eligible and won’t be until next offseason. He’s controllable for another four years, so it stands to reason that the Rays would like to secure a pair of free agent years (if not more) in exchange for committing to him at this juncture.
Assuming he maintains his current trajectory, Odorizzi’s arbitration seasons could command as much as $20-25MM. And, as the free-agent market is beginning to show, the going rate for second- and even third starters is escalating closer to $20MM than ever before. Clearly, the Rays wouldn’t be interested in guaranteeing full market value this far in advance (no team would), so Wood and Odorizzi would have to make some form of concessions — probably in the overall cost the arbitration years and in the annual value of the free-agent seasons.
Were Odorizzi to agree to a long-term contract, his new deal would somewhat reset the market for pitchers in his service class. The only extension for a starting pitcher with between two and three years of service time in recent seasons was Corey Kluber’s five-year, $38.5MM deal last winter, but Kluber was noticeably older than Odorizzi and also coming off a Cy Young campaign, making his situation rather unique. Previous deals for pitchers in this service class (e.g. Yovani Gallardo, Derek Holland) were in the five-year, $30MM range, but those contracts are five years old now. Gio Gonazalez’s five-year, $42MM deal from 2012 somewhat surprisingly stands as the record for starters with between two and three years of service. It seems unlikely that the Rays would be keen on shelling out any sort of record deal for this service class, especially considering that one of the years in question is a pre-arbitration year (Gonzalez had Super Two status working in his favor).
A four-year pact with an option would lock in Odorizzi’s arbitration seasons and give the Rays an extra year of club control in exchange for delaying free agency by one season. That deal would still allow Odorizzi to hit the open market entering his age-31 season, though Tampa Bay typically seems to strive for multiple option years in these days.