Brooks Raley considered Rays to be the “Mecca” and a perfect fit
ST. PETERSBURG – Brooks Raley has done a great job as an Astros reliever the past two seasons.
But the opportunity to improve further is what led the southpaw to sign with the Rays, finalizing a two-year, $ 10 million deal with a 2024 option.
Raley, 33, said the chance to benefit from the Rays’ advanced analytical and technical pitching programs and to work with pitching coach Kyle Snyder and manager Kevin Cash was very appealing. Just like throwing in front of one of the best defenses in the league.
“It was just like the perfect fit,” Raley said after signing his contract Tuesday afternoon. “It’s kind of the next step for me. I feel like these guys are kind of a mecca for the pitcher and the labs and everything that’s so appealing about the game now and where it goes, and I just want to be a part of it.
Raley said the Rays expressed interest early in free agency, and as he spoke with other teams he kept coming back to them as the right choice for him, his wife and his three young daughters. . It will get $ 4.25 million in 2022 and $ 4.5 million in 2023, with either a $ 1.25 million buyout or a $ 6.5 million option for 2024.
“It was a very open and honest conversation,” Raley said. “They were like, ‘We want you,’ and I got to talk to Kyle and Cash earlier. And after those conversations, I was like, ‘You know, that’s fine with me. We’re kinda going to keep testing. the market and so on.
“But as things got closer and we talked with other teams it kept coming back – I always wanted to be the best player I can be. And for me – it was obviously first and foremost a family choice – and it felt right to me. “
He said he’s comfortable in the Rays’ no-role reliever box format, is open to pitching multiple innings, and is particularly eager to pitch in high-spin situations. the sink.
Raley ranked among the top majors last season with an average exit speed of 83mph, a hard hit rate of 21.5% and a strikeout rate of 31.7%, all while scoring 2 -3, 4.78 in 58 games, striking out 65 in 45 innings.
He had extraordinary success against lefties, using his combination of a slow curve and a slider with horizontal movement and a cutter to allow for an average of 0.195 (15 for 77, two extra-base hits) and 0.483 OPS , striking out 35 of the 85 he faced.
He wasn’t as good against righties, although he said he felt he had done better than the numbers showed: averaging 0.259 (28 for 108, 10 more hits) and 0.796 OPS.
Plus, he and the Rays have previously discussed ways to maximize his repertoire, like throwing cutters on both sides of the plate and using his change more.
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“I am really excited about the potential, the growth and the opportunities,” he said. “I just feel like there’s more to the tank and I want to grow as a player and as a person and I thought Tampa was perfect for that.”
The Rays see a lot to like and rely on Raley to handle high leverage situations. Plus, along with three of their other potential left-handed lifters after injury (Jalen Beeks, Colin Poche, Jeffrey Springs), they liked having top-notch certainty.
“The chance to have someone who we think is a top echelon southpaw to come out of the pen and really solidify this group was significant,” said Baseball Operations President Erik Neander. “You all know us well enough to say that if we take this type of commitment in the pen it’s because we see a lot of potential impact and someone who is going to be essential for us to win games and hold them late. “
The Rays did other business on Tuesday, gaining “some certainty” at first base by negotiating a one-year, $ 3.2 million deal with Ji-Man Choi (with a plan to search for another right-handed hitter ), then offering contracts to their 13 other players eligible for arbitration.
This included pitcher Tyler Glasnow, who is expected to make around $ 5.8 million even though he will spend the season readjusting to Tommy John’s surgery, and then a similar amount in 2023 when he returns to action with his supervised sleeves.
“The lost year is certainly unfortunate, but the level of ability and our optimism that he will pass to the other side of this operation and come back to whom he has been made a call to. deals easy and keep moving forward, ”Neander said. . “We’ll see where it goes from there. “
Launchers Ryan Yarbrough ($ 4.4 million), Matt Wisler ($ 1.8 million), Andrew Kittredge ($ 1.6 million), Yonny Chirinos ($ 1.2 million), Springs ($ 1 million) dollars), Nick Anderson ($ 900,000), Beeks ($ 600,000); outfielder Manuel Margot ($ 5M), Austin Meadows ($ 4.3M), Brett Phillips ($ 1.2M); infielder Yandy Diaz ($ 2.7 million); and wide receiver Francisco Mejia ($ 1.5 million).
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