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Tampa Bay Rays: What we can learn from Aaron Nola’s extension

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ST PETERSBURG, FL - SEPTEMBER 12: Blake Snell #4 of the Tampa Bay Rays pitches during a game against the Cleveland Indians at Tropicana Field on September 12, 2018 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
ST PETERSBURG, FL - SEPTEMBER 12: Blake Snell #4 of the Tampa Bay Rays pitches during a game against the Cleveland Indians at Tropicana Field on September 12, 2018 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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Earlier this offseason I wrote about the need for the Tampa Bay Rays to extend their new face of the franchise and now after Aaron Nola’s extension with the Phillies, we may have a clearer picture at what a Snell extension may look like.

When assessing what an extension could look like for the Tampa Bay Rays ace, Blake Snell, we should look no further than the recent extension of the Phillies ace, Aaron Nola. Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic reported this morning that the Phillies and Nola were nearing a 4 year extension:

Soon thereafter, Jeff Passan of ESPN released the breakdown of the completed extension:

Nola, the 7th overall pick in the 2014 draft has blossomed in Philadelphia and has a strikingly similar career path to that of Blake Snell’s. Nola’s new contract with the Phillies will buy out all three of his arbitration eligible years and at least one, but possibly two years of free agency if the Phillies elect to purchase the 2023 club option.

Blake Snell will become arbitration eligible in 2020 which makes an extension similar to Aaron Nola’s rather likely between now and around this time next year. Now, there really isn’t a better comparison out there for us to gauge Snell’s worth.

Through their first 3 years in the league, Nola was worth 7.8 fWAR while Snell was worth 8.3 fWAR. Nola started 14 fewer games in his first 3 years, but had a breakout 2018 just like Snell.

Nola’s first 3 years: (’15-’17)

60 GS // 24-22 // 3.94 ERA // 356.2 IP // 373K/97BB // 9.4 K/9 // 104 ERA+

Nola’s career numbers (4 years):

93 GS // 41-28 // 3.35 ERA // 569.0 IP // 597K/155BB // 9.4 K/9 // 124 ERA+

Snell’s first 3 years: (16′-’18)

74 GS // 32-20 // 2.95 ERA // 399.0 IP // 438K/174BB // 9.9 K/9 // 140 ERA+

If Blake has a 2019 campaign anywhere close to his 2018 season, their numbers could be extremely similar with the exception of about 10 or so more starts for the Rays southpaw.

Aaron Nola’s breakout 2018 is what allowed him to cash in on such a lucrative extension and if Blake Snell can produce numbers similar to his historic 2018 campaign, then he could make a case for an even more rewarding extension.

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If Snell can stay healthy in 2019, realistically he would enter his arbitration eligible years with roughly 10 more starts than Nola and up to 10 more wins as well. They would have similar if not almost identical value  though the first 4 years of their careers. If he can repeat what he did in 2018 (~4.5 fWAR), he could enter extension talks worth almost the same if not more than Nola (13.5 fWAR).

Next. Time for the Rays to lock up Snell. dark

It will be interesting to see if and when the Rays will begin extension discussions with Snell’s camp, if they haven’t already. But, for all of us waiting for such news we should look no further than Aaron Nola’s new contract.

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