The Washington Nationals could have looked into the services of free agent pitcher Robbie Ray. Thankfully he has fallen off the free agent board.
Thankfully this reunion did not happen.
Ray has never appeared in a game for the Nationals, as he was dealt to the Detroit Tigers in 2012. The trade netted the Nats Doug Fister. Ray made just six starts for the Tigers before they shipped him to the Arizona Diamondbacks as a part of a three-team trade.
In Arizona is where Ray made a name for himself. He won 47 games over the course of six seasons with 2017 being his breakout campaign. As an All-Star, Ray was 15-5 with a career best 2.89 earned run average, and league best 12.1 K/9.
A dreadful 2020 with the Diamondbacks led to him being traded to the Toronto Blue Jays, and it is with the Jays whom Ray has re-signed for the 2021 season.
At the 1 YR/$8M price tag Ray signed, the Nationals could have afforded to bring him in to compete with Joe Ross for the four spot in the starting rotation.
I’m glad they didn’t.
Ray has fallen on hard times and where he is still a vaunted strikeout guy, he has always had difficulty finding the strike zone. He has a career BB/9 rate of 4.3, boosted by the 7.8 walks-per-nine-innings he put up this past year.
Along with walking too many, and allowing too many baserunners in general, Ray gives up too many home runs. In 2019 he gave up 30 round trippers. Giving up free passes followed by home runs is a bad combination for a major league pitcher.
Whether the Nationals had interest in Ray or not, we may never know. The good news is they will not be together, at least for this year. The Nationals do have a need at the back end of the rotation, though Ray is not the answer, even in the short term.