Rays Rumors

Rays and Jake Odorizzi Close to Extension

By Mat Germain
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Marc Topkin has the details of how the extension talks between the Rays and Jake Odorizzi are going here. He details how the interest is mutual and that they’re getting closer to an agreement.

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Steve Adams of

MLBTR projects

Odorizzi would make somewhere between $20 and $25 million through his arbitration years (2019).

Using that figure as a floor, the Rays could be seeking to buy out one of his free agent years by offering him more during the initial years than he is projected to make.

Something like a 5-year $60 to $70 million agreement would make sense as a result.

The extension would be significant for the Rays who could then be certain to have both Chris Archer and Odorizzi leading their staff through 2020. The Rays seem to want to get the extension done before they consider dealing one or two of Alex Cobb, Matt Moore, Drew Smyly, and Erasmo Ramirez.

With Blake Snell and a few others knocking on the door to the majors, the Rays would be assured of having a strong duo at the top of their rotation. Odorizzi mentions getting along with the team and with the pitches coaches as a major reason he’d like to stick around.

Locking Odorizzi up through 2020 would mean that he hits the free agent market at 31 years old and gets to set himself up for another big payday.

According to Fangraphs, Odorizzi managed a 2.9 WAR in 2015 and projects to achieve a 2.2 WAR in 2016. If he can throw 200 innings in 2016, expect that to go up significantly.

Thoughts

Odorizzi is the perfect candidate for a few very good reasons. First, he’s proven to be reliable and is on track to become a 200 inning workhorse for the foreseeable future. Second, his pitch use has been modified over the years to not only become more effective overall, but also more efficient.

In 2014, he added a cutter and a splitter to his repertoire and has grown more confident in these pitches through two years. According to Fangraph’s PITCH/fx, he threw his cutter 11.5% of the time in 2015, and his splitter 29.8% of the time. In turn, his curveball and slider usage have both diminished to 3.3% and 2.8% respectively.

Aug 12, 2015; St. Petersburg, FL, USA;Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi (23) looks on in the dugout during the sixth inning against the Atlanta Braves at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Brooks Baseball has a different picture in terms of mix, but it follows the same story of mor use of his cutter and splitter over the curveball and slider. There’s a graph of it available here.

In the information provided by BB, it shows that the slider did make a return near the end of the season with the splitter being used less and less as the season wore on. Interestingly, his ERA and Whip jumped simultaneously from 2.30 and 1.008 in the first half to 4.34 and 1.287 in the second half of the season.

The good news in this is that his velocity and movement were consistent all season long, available here, indicating that the lesser performance in the second half did not seem to be injury related.

There are valid arguments on all sides when it comes to which pitches put the most strain on the pitcher’s arm and shoulder, but most will agree that the motions used to throw a curveball and slider are more hard on both than other pitches. Mechanics has a lot to do with injuries, but the fact that Odorizzi has been able to perfect pitches that put less strain on his body makes him a very attractive pitcher to keep around long-term.

That’s why I believe the Rays are moving forward with an extension, and that’s why he’ll likely be able to remain productive during the entire length of the extension’s term.

Next: Rays Winter Meetings: Four Possible Trade Partners

Lock him up! If the Rays are going to be trading some pitching depth, having Odorizzi around signed to an extension is like a warm cozy blanket on a stormy night.

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