The Rays announced Thursday that they’ve signed right-hander Jason Adam to a one-year, Major League contract. Tyler Glasnow, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, has been placed on the 60-day injured list in a corresponding move. Neil Solondz reports that Adam’s contract is a split Major League deal that will pay him at a $900K rate in the big leagues and a $300K rate in the minors. He can earn an additional $250K via incentives.
Adam, 30, was a quietly effective reliever with the Blue Jays and Cubs from 2019-20, pitching to a combined 3.06 ERA with a 26.2% strikeout rate and 12.1% walk rate in 35 1/3 innings between those two stops. He was particularly adept at missing bats with the Cubs in 2020, whiffing 21 of the 58 batters he faced (36.2%) while logging a sky-high 17.3% swinging-strike rate.
The 2021 season was nothing short of harrowing for Adam, however. After being optioned to Triple-A Iowa early in the season, Adam was shagging fly balls during warmups for a game when he suffered an open dislocation and fracture of his left ankle — a gruesome injury that also caused significant damage to multiple ligaments and tendons in his foot.
Adam told the Des Moines Register’s Tommy Birch last June that he had thoughts of NFL quarterback Alex Smith’s career-altering injury and the grueling sequence of surgeries and infection that followed. At one point, Adam feared he might lose his foot. He told Birch that he went into shock and that doctors had difficulty sedating him for surgery due to the excess of adrenaline his body produced in the wake of the injury. Birch’s story is well worth a full read for full context on the severity of Adam’s injury as well as quotes from Adam, teammates and coaches who were there at the time (note that there are some rather graphic details of the awful injury).
Incredibly, however, Adam not only made a full recovery but returned to the Majors with the Cubs late in the 2021 season after just a few months of rehab. Recalled to the Majors in late September, Adam made three appearances and tossed three shutout innings with six strikeouts, no walks and just one hit allowed down the stretch. His overall season ERA still checked in at 5.91 through a small sample of 10 1/3 innings, but the route he took to get there is nothing short of remarkable.
Now fully healthy, Adam will compete for a bullpen spot in the Tampa Bay bullpen alongside Andrew Kittredge, Pete Fairbanks, J.P. Feyereisen, JT Chargois, Matt Wisler and Brooks Raley, among others. Because he’s on a split contract and has a minor league option year remaining, he’s not assured that spot and could potentially be sent down to the minors. However, the Rays and other clubs that have used frequent options to maintain fresh arms in the bullpen will be a bit more limited in 2022; under the new collective bargaining agreement, an individual player can only be optioned to the minors five separate times during a given option year.
If Adam can remain healthy and solidify himself as a member of the Tampa Bay relief corps, he’ll hold plenty of value to the Rays not only in 2022 but well beyond. He currently has just a year and 129 days of Major League service time, meaning he could remain under club control all the way through the 2026 season.