The Tampa Bay Rays have preempted the Winter Meetings by signing starting pitcher Zach Eflin to a three-year, $40 million deal according to a report by ESPN’s Jeff Passan.
Eflin started the 2022 season as a member of the starting rotation but transformed into a swing man. He made 13 starts over 20 appearances including one save with a 4.04 ERA before a knee contusion put him on the injured list.
He returned in September and in the 2022 postseason Eflin went 10.2 IP with 12 K and a 3.38 ERA as part of the pennant winning Phillies bullpen. Over the last 5 seasons, the 28-year old has accumulated 531.2 IP with a 4.16 ERA/4.02 FIP and 15.8% K-BB.
Eflin has a sinker/curveball makeup that induces a lot of ground balls by staying off the barrel, and has shown that he’s a consistently above average starting pitcher in the major leagues.
The aggressive price for a pitcher of Eflin’s tier will set the market next week to some extent, but fans should be encouraged that if the Rays see more than that there this could be a huge impact.
what Zach Eflin does really well: locating different pitches to different parts of the zone for efficiency sakes. it's oddly satisfying to look at these heat maps. pic.twitter.com/OzaiWB5pxN— Sung Min Kim (@sung_minkim) December 2, 2022
Eflin went to Hagerty High School in Oviedo, making this signing a sort-of homecoming. He was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 1st round (33rd) of the 2012 MLB June Amateur Draft. He was traded alongside Yasmani Grandal to the Los Angeles Dodgers as part of the Matt Kemp, and then was flipped to the Phillies in the Jimmy Rollins trade the following day.
When determining his salary for 2022, Eflin and his agent negotiated for a one-year, $5.7 million deal with a mutual option, which Eflin declined in order to pursue a free agent deal, apparently with his hopes set on settling in with the Rays.