Tampa Bay Rays: Odorizzi Wins Arbitration Case, Eovaldi Signed

Jul 31, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi (23) smiles in the dugout against the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 31, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi (23) smiles in the dugout against the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Odorizzi pitches a winner in arbitration beats the Tampa Bay Rays and Eovaldi signing is officially announced.

It was a busy day on Tuesday for the Tampa Bay Rays as the arbitration decision on starter Jake Odorizzi came down and they made the official announcement that they had signed Nathan Eovaldi.

Fantastic news for Odorizzi, however not so for the Rays who learned that Odorizzi had beaten them in arbitration and will earn $4.1 million that he pitched to the arbitrators on Monday. The Rays had countered with an offer of $3.825 when the sides met with the arbitrators.

The big question now is that Odorizzi holds the fifth highest salary on the Rays and with his big payday it could make him a trade candidate come this summer’s trade deadline. This past off-season Odorizzi drew interest from numerous teams, including the Pirates.

The Rays lost a hearing, for just the second time under Stuart Sternberg’s ownership as they had been 6-1 heading into Monday’s hearing. The decision came down on Tuesday, after all the first-year eligible starters had their cases heard. Odorizzi joins former teammate Drew Smyly as the only players to have beaten the Rays in arbitration.

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“We just felt like what my value was didn’t match what the figure was before the agreement, and that was the turning point about going to arbitration,” Odorizzi said, via Bill Chastain of MLB.com. “And it turns out we fought a good fight and won. It’s just nice to have it all done and over with and in the past. Now it’s officially baseball season and we can focus on things as a team.”

This was Odorizzi’s first year of arbitration and remains eligible through the 2019 season. With a raise over $3.5 million ($520,700 in 2016) Odorizzi must capitalize on last season when he was the only pitcher with a winning record going 10-6 with a 3.69 ERA over 187.2 innings in 33 starts. Overall, on the season he set career highs in innings pitched, starts, and home runs allowed. Following the All-Star break, Odorizzi went 7-1 with a 2.71 ERA.

Mum was the word on Monday during the Rays spring training media session concerning pitcher Nathan Eovaldi. By Tuesday morning, the Rays made their announcement that they had indeed signed Eovaldi.

Recovering from his second Tommy John surgery, Eovaldi is expected to miss all of 2017 season and will be placed on the 60-day DL, which became available following Eddie Gamboa being designated for assignment.

The Rays had 10 days to wither trade, release or pass Gamboa through waivers but that will not become necessary, as Gamboa was traded to the Texas Rangers for cash or a player to be named later as Tweeted by Marc Topkin. With the trade of Gamboa, the Rays now have an opening on the 40-man roster.

In parts of six seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Miami Marlins and New York Yankees, Eovaldi is 38-46 with a 4.21 ERA. His best season came in 2015 with the Yankees when he posted a 14-3 record with a 4.20 ERA. Last year for the Bronx Bombers, was a complete disappointment as he fell to 9-8 with a 4.76 ERA in 21 starts, plus three appearances out of the bullpen.

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Eovaldi was drafted by the Dodgers in the 11th round of the 2008 Draft where he would spend his first two seasons going 2-8 with a 3.96 ERA in 20 games (16 starts) before a trade to the Miami Marlins in July 2012 for Randy Choate and Hanley Ramirez.

In three seasons with the Marlins, Eovaldi was 13-27 with a 4.10 ERA in 63 games (all starts) before being shipped to the Yankees during the 2014 off-season that netted the Marlins Martin Prado and David Phelps.

His two-years with the Yankees were his best in terms of his won/loss record going 23-11 in 51 appearances (48 starts). However, his ERA sits at 4.45 over this span despite his 218 strikeouts in 279 innings.

The signing by the Rays is another risk/gamble that they are taking, one similar to that of Chase Whitley who the Rays grabbed off the waiver wire upon his release from the Yankees two seasons ago.

Next: Rays Continue to Bide Their Time in Free Agency

Eovaldi said he chose to sign with the Rays in large part given their strong track record in rehabbing pitchers who have Tommy John surgery, including former Yankees teammate Chase Whitley.