When Rays fans look to the future, do they see Tyler Glasnow continuing to pitch in Columbia Blue? Glasnow had Tommy John surgery on the 4th of August after experiencing elbow issues against the White Sox. It appears that Glas won’t pitch until 2023, or perhaps he’ll log a few innings in late 2022. But the dilemma for the Rays is that Glasnow becomes a free agent in 2024. Some have said that the Rays might consider cutting their losses and trading him now.
I believe this would be a bad idea. Glasnow is only 28 years old and he has so much to prove in the next couple of years. On the other hand, Glasnow doesn’t have a tone of value right now, due to his injury, if the Rays intend to trade him the return won’t be as good as the Rays would desire. Also, Glasnow is entering another year of arbitration, it’s projected that he will receive close to $6 MM in 2022 which won’t break the bank.
What should the Rays do with Glas?
The Rays shall give the $6 MM to Glas in this arbitration period, and then the front office should give the 3rd and last arbitration contract in 2023. In the same season, the Rays should try to negotiate a contract extension that will start in 2024, when he would hit free agency. Here is why Tyler’s price is the cheapest it has been since he was traded to the Rays because there is plenty of uncertainty on what is going to follow with Tyler’s elbow. In my eyes this is the time to make a move, the front office should give Glasnow an affordable contract extension. In the worst case, the Rays could trade him at the end of his contract. The good start might be a 4-5 year contract and $65MM to $75 MM. That does put the Rays on the hook, but if Glasnow performs they should still be able to trade him toward the end of the contract. The contact can look something like this:
Year 1 $12 MM
Year 2 $12 MM
Year 3 $14 MM
Year 4 $15 MM
Year 5 $17 MM
Why would Glasnow consider this deal? Because full recovery from TJS is never assured. Because he still has another two years of arb left, which means he will hit free agency at age 30. Also, Tyler has had his best years in Tampa with pitching coach Kyle Snyder, and the Rays remain in a good place to have competitive teams, given the depth of their farm. These factors could push Glasnow, who does not lack for confidence, to accept a long term deal.
There is no question that prior to his injury Glasnow was halfway to a Cy Young caliber season. He posted a 2.66 ERA in 88 innings pitched, and an outstanding 2.77 FIP, which would have ranked 6th in the majors if Tyler would have been able to qualify. Glasnow ended up with an outstanding 36.2 K% and an impressive 6.7 BB%, the combination of plenty of strikeouts and a few walks leads to success.
Glasnow has always had potential to be great, but it looked as though 2021 was the year he was putting it all together. His new slider was probably part of the reason. In 2020 batters were close to having a 50% chance of guessing the pitch, since he threw the fastball and curveball more than 95% of the time. Adding a third legit weapon would have made it harder for batters to guess.
But it’s not just that Glasnow had a broader repertoire, it’s that his slider was outstanding. Glasnow’s slider had 4 wSL (slider runs above average). It gave him a pitch he could locate down and away. The slider also has led to an exponential increase of swing and misses: in 2020 Tyler provoked 14% of swinging strikes and in 2021 that number increased to 17.2%. Also, the contact batters made decreased over time — in 2020 batters made overall contact 69.4% of the time, while in 2021 opponents touched the ball 64.9%. The contact of opponents has been worse than ever outside the zone by dropping close to 10% from 2020 to 2021, all because of the new slider.
Plenty of people believe that this is not a “Rays move”, however, this year the Rays gave Archer $7 MM and he only pitched 19 innings. So, why not risk a couple of more millions and give them to an elite pitcher? Is the perfect time to give Glasnow the bag, but the big question is how Tyler is going to recover from his surgery. What do you think, can both sides get a deal done?