The Rays added a veteran source of innings to their rotation Friday morning, announcing a one-year deal with right-hander Michael Wacha. The CAA client will reportedly land a $3MM guarantee on the heels of a rough 2020 season with the Mets. That’s the same salary (prior to pro-rating) that Wacha earned in New York last season.
Wacha struggled through eight games with the Mets in the abbreviated 2020 season, pitching to a 6.62 ERA with a whopping nine home runs allowed in just 34 innings. His 2019 season was also rather lackluster campaign owing in no small part to knee and shoulder injuries — the latter of which has been a recurring issue throughout his career.
Despite the down showing, Wacha was reportedly a fairly popular target among free-agent starters due to his age and price point. The 2015 All-Star also logged a very strong 37-to-7 K/BB ratio in those 34 frames while seeing marked upticks in swinging-strike rate and opponents’ chase rate. His 11.3 percent swinging-strike rate trails only his 11.4 percent mark from his rookie campaign back in 2013, and Wacha’s 34.3 percent chase rate on pitches outside the strike zone was far and away a career-high. He won’t turn 30 until July, either, making Wacha younger than several other free-agent rotation options on the market.
Wacha’s average fastball velocity bottomed out with the Cardinals in 2019, sitting at a career-low 93 mph, per Statcast. He made some positive gains last year, sitting at 93.6 mph with the pitch, but he’s still a ways removed from his 95.1 mph peak back in 2017. He altered his pitch selection considerably in 2020, scrapping a once highly effective curveball to lean into a three-pitch mix featuring his four-seamer, cutter and changeup. The results weren’t great from a run-prevention standpoint, although the aforementioned gains in missed bats surely piqued the Rays’ interest.
Wacha is a sensible pickup for the Rays, who earlier this winter declined their $15MM club option on Charlie Morton but still have high-end starters Blake Snell and Tyler Glasnow to front the rotation. Depth, however, is more of an issue than usual for Tampa Bay, as each of Yonny Chirinos (Tommy John surgery), Jalen Beeks (Tommy John surgery) and Brendan McKay (shoulder surgery) went under the knife in the past several months. Chirinos and Beeks won’t pitch in 2021. McKay’s timeline is still muddy. Prior indications have been that he’ll be delayed in ’21 but eventually be able to take the mound.
With Wacha now on board, the Rays will presumably deploy a starting mix of Snell, Glasnow, Wacha and Ryan Yarbrough. Lefty Josh Fleming, righty Trevor Richards and top prospect Shane McClanahan are all candidates to claim permanent spots in the rotation as well. The Rays were also the club to popularize the usage of openers, so it’s possible they’ll eschew a set fifth starter entirely, instead gravitating toward less conventional means of pitcher use. The possibility of trading a more experienced starter can’t be written off, either, as Snell’s name has popped up on the rumor circuit at multiple points this winter.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times first reported that the two sides were “deep” in talks and that the two sides had reached a $3MM agreement (Twitter links).
Does this make Wacha early favorite for 2021 AL Comeback Player of the year and 2022 Cy Young award winner?
Wacha will definitely have an ERA of 0.84 next year as a member of the Rays. His ERA for any other team would have been 6.27.
Agreed. The Rays have that magical ability!
If you say WACHA WACHA WACHA WACHA……………it sounds like you’re playing Pac Man. Just sayin”
Or you’re doing a Fozzie the bear impersonation.
Definitely fozzie bear
no his best years are long behind him, he’s not even a 5th starter any more
stan lee the manly
Wacha is easily at least a 4 if he’s healthy. That’s the issue though, he’s apparently got some structural issues in his shoulder that he can’t do anything about, he’s always had it. At this point all he can do is try to manage it
it was a shame too because when healthy he was nasty but every around mid june the wheels would fall off. i think putting him in the backend or a 6th starter (i can see the rays using 6 starters they use opener) might help him stay healthy all season due to lighter work load
That’s what you think….but you see, the Rays have this tendency….
There was a strong case in Wachas numbers that he would be a good bullpen arm even possibly a closer from 2016-2018. He was great 1st time through the line up then ok a 2nd time through the line up then just awful the 3rd time through the line up. I’m not so sure about now, after 2020, but with how the Rays operate their pitching staff this signing makes a hell of a lot of sense from a numbers stand point.
This isn’t the astros
Would not put it past Wacha and the Rays to turn this into a smart, bargain deal. Good pitcher coming off a bad year coming to an organization that gets the best out of their pitchers.
If you’re going to get things back on track as a pitcher there are few places better than Tampa to go do so.
Should have just picked up Mortons option
Wacha is another value play of so many have worked out well but not all do! I am all in and with wacha vs Morton, if we get to go games next year this means my $25 third base line with free parking is still on to watch meaningful very good baseball late into season. Thank you very much
Why would they pick up such an expensive option for an older player?
He is still dominant, provides veteran leadership and presence, and is *lights out* in postseason. If you made that comment, I am assuming you don’t watch much baseball, or at least not much aside from yr favorite team. There’s a reason the Braves paid him.
He also had a 4.74 ERA and missed time with a shoulder injury.
He’s occasionally dominant now and this is coming from a Rays fan who witnessed a great 2019 vs a multi injury interrupted 2020. Great guy….class act but I’m actually ok with him leaving as long as they don’t pocket the savings which is the true Rays way. Good luck to Charlie.
And pitched lights out in the playoffs. And Wacha had a 6.62 ERA so dont play that card.
Morton was just okay last year, is older, and recently battled some injuries. That is a lot of risk to take on for a Rays team that has such a small budget. I was okay with the Rays not picking up his option, it’s just a bummer our pitching depth is lower than usual too. Hopefully Wacha rebounds!
Don’t play WHAT card?? I simply said that I was ok with Morton going as the Rays can’t take a chance for a player to lose time when paying him 1/4 of the teams payroll. You are comparing a couple good playoff performances to a terrible year by Wacha? That’s why they could even afford him in the first place.
They’re idiots like you?
Well…..it’s 3 mil vs 15 mil. To the ridiculously budget minded Rays that’s like a puddle vs the Gulf of Mexico.
With the way the Rays opperate their pitching staff I can see Wacha and his problematic shoulder thriving in Tampa Bay. His problem is work load, you put him out there for 4-5 innings 2 times through a line up max and I can see this working out great for both the Rays and Wacha. Wacha was going to be something great, then his shoulder couldn’t handle pitching no hitters into the 7th and 8th inning anymore… Rays wouldn’t let Snell pitch past the 6th inning in a game he was absolutely dealing in.
Love it. Would be a classic Rays move
People really think the rays have this magic wand lol.
Obviously you haven’t been paying attention. They clearly have the right minds in place that separate them from the pack in a lot of areas.
I hope Wacha recovers well in Tampa Bay! As a Met fan, he is very injury prone, but showed flashes of being a solid number 5.
For Love of the Game
Correct. This move wouldn’t have raised eyebrows for almost any team in MLB, a buy-low move that happens all the time. But coming from the chea-pass Rays, this signals they see something others don’t. I’ll bet this turns out to be a shrewd move for both the Rays and Wacha.
@For the love of the game…..I’ll take that bet…I guarantee the Rays will regret this signing, even at 3 mil, and Wacha will be on the IL for most of the season…that is after giving up a bunch of home runs
still salty about the arozarena trade aren;t we
not at all…has nothing to do with it…Just stating facts…Wacha is no good…The cardinals orginization is still very successful…and overall the rays don’t even come close to their success…the cardinals still got Libetore….congrats on getting to the WS…yawn…now win one and we can talk…win 11 and we can talk further
Why do negative? Grow up.
To be fair.. youre talking about a 1998 expansion team that has consistently low attendance and one of the lowest payrolls in all of baseball but has been really successful despite that, vs. The 4th oldest franchise born in 1882 and has been around for 142-143 years with an above avg. Payroll
Wachas numbers in St Louis indicate that with how the Rays opperate a pitching staff I.E. not letting pitchers pitch past the 6th inning indicate this could work out good for both the RAYS and Wacha. Wacha was good 1st and 2nd time through a line up then would get lit up the 3rd time. The shoulder will do better with just pitching into the 4th or 5th inning with the Rays.
wow man way to make us cards fans look bad please excuse him most of us are not that salty unless it towards mo.
Tampa does a lot right, but people here seem to think they can walk on water raise the dead.
Being that they relentlessly do “raise the dead”, it’s a fair call.
I think you’re projecting your own issues.
Not sure if they have the ability to walk on water but raise the dead, sometimes
Obviously YOU haven’t been paying attention. Wacha is straight garbage. Rays aren’t fixing him.
If he gets an ERA under 4.50 this is a dub
I doubt he will
Wacha’s a stud in the playoffs, therefore Mets have no use for him. Keep balancing out the market so teams can afford players they wouldn’t before donning the blue pinstripes.
Lol this guy is going to be mad when the Braves are in 2nd place next year
And u finna be disappointed when mets are trash
Angry Mets fan is big mad Wacha stunk for them for 34 innings and now says that miniscule sample scale is worthy enough to say he’s toast. You are only making yourself look bad.
Wacha’s K/BB ratio last year was 37-7 in 34 innings. He WILL be elite this year, just watch.
And they could still be in the playoffs, which is fine by me. Wild Card seems to be a workable pathway to the championship, so if it’s without a division title — sure. Attainable goals are key to success, so start with NOT finishing in last place. I’m sure Steve can buy at least 4th place for ya. Merry Xmas, MF22!
Maybe that’s why he said if.
dont start crying in october next year
not so much almost all pitchers that leave aren’t all that great for other teams
Sorry Rays fan and the thought that the Rays are going to somehow turn around Wacha …I am willing to go out on a limb and say this is a bad signing…Wacha has not been good for some time now and he just serves up home runs.
So you’re just gonna post and troll numerous times on the same post? Get a life.
Ok…are you the bouncer for mlbtraderumors lol…you have also posted numerous times and trolling…I’ve started my Christmas vacation and burning some time…I have a great life thank you…now you can go ahead and get a life also…I’m stating facts sorry if that hurts you’re feelings and I offended you
the guy is a Cards fan amd Wacha played most of his career for the Cards. why isnt his take valid?
Wacha would do decent 1st and 2nd time through a line up… That’s how the Rays are going to deploy him… The Rays aren’t going to “fix Wacha” they are going to play to his strengths like they do with everything else regarding starting pitching. I could be wrong I’ve been wrong before, but I wouldn’t doubt that the Rays have noticed this about Wacha which is why they were willing to drop 3 million on him. They fit each others blue print for success.
Not sure if cards81 is trolling, but I have to say I agree to an extent (although I completely understand trusting the Rays right now). He had a strong start to his career, but other than 84 good innings in ’18, he hasn’t been really good since 2015. If he becomes anything other than long-relief/4.50 ERA 5th starter, this would be one of the biggest ‘Rays-isms’.
That everyone here wants to cry foul on a FA signing for $3mil blows my mind. Sounds like a great deal to me.
not a match i thought about
Get rid of the softball players
The Ray’s would have to make a trade before signing wacha to make room on the 40 man roster.
Ideally for them would be getting rid of keirmaier’s contract unfortunately for them only the giants and astros are only teams to take on his contract..Ray’s would have to add a piece because krirmaier there is no market for krirmaier alone.
Ray’s do have a big trade chip in snell.
This is the time of the year where the Ray’s make a trade that no one saw coming.
I would imagine they’ll just designate someone for assignment — Ryan Sherriff and Aaron Slegers being two of the likelier names.
They might eventually make a trade still — probably safe to assume they will — but I wouldn’t consider the Wacha signing a precursor to a Snell or Kiermaier trade.
Red Sox have already submitted claims on both.
Trade Idea: Rays trade top prospect for bag of chips hoping it becomes an mvp.
Maybe not an MVP, but probably a serviceable platoon player.
Many baseball fans thought the Rays did just that last year when they traded top pitching prospect Libertore for Jose Martinez. However the real trade target was obviously Arozorena and the Rays now think they have a star in the making.
Seeing this has never happened, I doubt it.
Randy is a dandy
Yeah I’m pretty sure we just witnessed a curse being born… A Babe Ruth type curse maybe? I hate to say it. They were snakebitten made a trade for gold and all they got was pyrite
Seems like a relatively low risk high reward option, even for the Rays. Doesn’t exactly replace Morton but he’s a guy that can give you some innings.
This is what the Tampa’s, Kansas City’s and a few other teams do because they have no other choice. The Rays do you seem to make these bargain deals work more often than not but Wacha? They should have just found a way to give Charlie his money
Get rid of the softball players
I could see the Ray’s signing archer instead of wacha.unfortunately for pirate fans it would be more salt in the wound.
Someone will sign archer as a swing man or possibly as a closer.
Don’t count TB out on Arch…
Someone the Phillies should have been in on now the Rays got him watch him have a 2.00 Era and go 23-5.
no thanks. he’s toast.
That’s what they said about Lance Berkman in 2010 when he left New York, then he received MVP votes in 2011
Rather a “meh” signing, but it does have some upside. At worse, Wacha’s a decent stand-in until the Rays other back-of-the-rotation types get healthy.
The real key for the Rays is Glassnow. Can he get over his delivery issues enough to move out of the “perpetual potential” category into being a solid #2. We know what Snell can be, when he wants to be, and while Yarborough/Flemming don’t have “stuff”, the results speak for themselves (“All Chris Carter does is score touchdowns”).
That said, the Rays could still use another starter (ya, Archer would be cool). But the Yankees need at least three, the Blue Jays four, and the Red Sox five. So they maintain a rather huge edge in the division.
Good points. Glas needs to figure it out–he has ace stuff. Snell will be gone, have depth but no number two (if one calls Glas the number one); if the young pups come around, they’ll be fine.
Imagine Arch coming back and killing it.
For Wacha to excell, He will need to do the Bulk pitching within the Opener strategy. This will save his arm for a long successful season. That is considering they keep Blake Snell.
Here’s what was written when he signed with the Mets. A little more positively written this year, even though he had a terrible 2020.
2020 to Mets, “It’s tough to say just how much upside Wacha offers at this stage. He was able to stay on the mound for most of 2019 but hasn’t been as effective as he was before shoulder and back issues began to crop up. Statcast numbers don’t offer much in the way of encouragement; if anything, they suggest his strong ’18 output (3.20 ERA in 84 1/3 innings) was based upon some good fortune (.249 BABIP-against, .286 wOBA vs. .350 xwOBA). ”
2021 to Rays “sensible pickup” after a terrible year…
Context: one team does well w such signings, one team does not; one team is cheap yet consistently successful…the other makes huge payouts and is not.
oh please. the Rays do not have a magic wand that makes players better, nor do players just fall to pieces upon joining the Mets.
Since when have the Mets made big pay outs???
There were changes that are positive. He had the second highest SwStk% and K% of his career. Couple that with his lowest BB% and he showed a huge improvement in K-BB% which was the best of his career and all of those numbers showed huge improvements from the previous season. He changed up his pitch usage and it’s very possible this is a legitimate change and not just small sample size noise. The Rays have a reputation for recognizing and identifying these type of players.
Nice little pick up by the Rays. If healthy, Wacha definitely has a chance to out-perform that $3 million.
The Yankees and Red Sox say thank you.
Lol the Red Sox. Got their cheater manager back, still won’t be relevant.
This is low risk/high upside move. The Rays always seem to find value.
Wow, did not see this coming–need SP, Wacha will eat innings, hope he can return at least close to old form.
he cant eat innings when he’s on the IL
When he issues a base on balls I think of Fonzie Bear. Wacha walka.
Yikes….you know it’s been a drag of an offseasons when people are doing Muppet Babies marerial
You must have fat thumbs too
Anyone know why a majority of free agents haven’t signed yet? When will all the pieces fall?
Wacha flocka flame
Fleming did quite well last year. if they only go with four starters then id move Wacha to the pen over sending Fleming down.
The Rays are ridiculous. They decline Morton’s $15 million option for this season. Refuse to trade for Lance Lynn, who would of cost just $8 million this season. But then they sign Michael Wacha who will probably win 15 games this year. I don’t get it. They always find a way to win.
Mad yankee fans lmao
Rays keep trimming salary AND replacing or even improving the roster, Yankees and Red Sox fans have to be constantly punching the air at everything the Rays do, it really is so funny lmaooo
From 2011 – 2020, the Red Sox or Yankees or both finished ahead of the Rays all but once. 2020. The Rays hardly “own” either the Red Sox or the Yankees, as you seem to suggest. Rays have one stellar season and suddenly some people think they’re perennial division leaders. They aren’t. Just once in the last decade. Keep it real.
They arent always good because of money they get veterans and rookies developed then become good
The Rays positional record in the AL East starting with 2020 and descending backwards to 2010 is;
The Yankees positional record in the same time frame; 2,1,2,2,4,2,2,3,1,1,2
The Red Sox positional record in the same time frame; 5,3,1,1,1,5,5,1,5,3,3
I don’t think either the Red Sox, or Yankees are “punching the air” given the recent success in 2020 and or 2019….funny? I don’t think so!
Tampa does do a good job on owner limited budgets but that is by their choice
also that’s birthday boy Brendan McKay to you Steve! happy 25th Brendan!
Again , another guy that is always hurt and always gets guarantee contracts !
This isn’t the NFL! Webster’s defines a contract as a pact that is unbreakable…unbreakable. How do you get a player to play for you without a contract in MLB? Most teams offer incentives based on performance but base salaries are guaranteed.
Great deal with low risk and high upside (If the RAYS can do their magic). But I think IMO Wacha is at the end of his road.
Any FA is a risk.
For the Rays Wacha is just expected to be a decent pitcher either as a #5 or log multiple innings every other game. The Rays would not have signed him if they didn’t see anything they liked about him or to make adjustments that might help him. If he delivers any of what I just mentioned this will be a very good signing.
Why do teams keep fawning over him and allowing him to be in their rotations? I can’t understand.
He got 1 year 3 million dollars. I would hardly call that fawning over him. He logs 50 bullpens innings and he earned that contract. He is a career league average pitcher who had 2-3 well above average years.
Ducky Buckin Fent
/ Pencils Wacha in for top 5 finish in 2021 AL Cy Young voting /
Darn those Rays! He will probably win the AL Cy Young award!
He should paying the Rays to pitch. This guy pitched underhand last season
Giants should’ve signed him instead of DeSclafani, in my opinion. Could’ve saved 3 million too
I would, w/ good grace. trade Al Avila and any DET prospect for Erik Neander or Chris Antonetti.
This is a great move by the Rays. Just gotta hope it pays off.
He’s only 29!!?!
at this price, excellent signing
Love this signing. I know I’m in the minority but I would’ve liked the Mets to resign him. His era was rough because he had terrible 2nd inning numbers and it was frustrating to watch because his stuff looked very sharp! If you look at his numbers outside of the 2nd inning they’re top tier starter numbers granted a small sample size. Quite frankly there’s absolutely no way his era of 18.00 in the second inning continues this year.
Rays will have him bounce back for sure.
Rays with a typical shrewd signing. Good solid pitcher, good track record. He goes to an organization that has a penchant for making players better, and he makes the highest in pocket money because he will play in the lowest taxed state for athletes. Win/win for everyone on this deal.