While he pitched in the Washington Nationals organization, he never threw a pitch for the Nationals. In his first few years away from the franchise which drafted him, he didn’t really do much to make them miss him, either. After his Cy Young performance of 2021, Nationals fans are looking at Robbie Ray with the same eyes they use for Lucas Giolito. Now, Ray has a new home, and a flashy new contract to boot.
Ray, if you remember, was the prize piece sent to the Detroit Tigers in the 2013 trade which netted the Nationals Doug Fister. After pitching just one season in Motown, Ray was on the move again, shipped to the Arizona Diamondbacks where he toiled for the better part of six seasons. Sure, he had an All-Star campaign in 2017, while finishing with 15 wins and an ERA of 2.89. During his time in the desert his FIP was above four, and he walked too many people.
In 2020, between the Diamondbacks and Toronto Blue Jays, Ray was arguably the worst pitcher in baseball. He had a career high FIP, BB/9, and HR/9, and battled injuries.
Former Nationals pitcher, Robbie Ray, has struck it rich after signing a five year contract with the Seattle Mariners.
In 2021, Ray was arguably the best pitcher in all of baseball. He secured the American League Cy Young Award, after leading the league in ERA, innings pitched, strikeouts, and WHIP.
This performance led to the 5 YR/$115M pact he signed with Mariners.
On the heels of the Max Scherzer deal, this makes two former Nationals to sign lucrative deals this offseason. While Scherzer did his part in helping the 2019 Nationals win the World Series, fans are left to wonder what could have been had Ray stayed with the organization.
Took Ray eight years to get to where he is today, a Cy Young winner, and odds are if the Nats would not have included him in the Fister package, they wouldn’t have stayed by his side long enough to see what he could have become in DC. Who knows though, Erick Fedde has gotten his chances after five seasons and sixty-one starts of subpar pitching.
As for the Nationals and Ray, they’ve been on different schedules. Ray, a young flamethrower when the Nats were looking for a veteran arm. The Nats, in rebuilding mode, when Ray was looking to break the bank. Just another, “what if” from the Nationals farm system.