In a somewhat surprising move, the Tampa Bay Rays announced they signed left-handed starting pitcher Jeffrey Springs to a four-year deal: $31 million contract through the 2026 season, and includes a $15 million club option for the 2027 season. The contract can max out at $65.75 million if innings pitched incentives are reached and the standard Cy Young Award escalators are triggered.
Springs, entering his age-30 season, is credited with 14 wins and 6 losses with a 2.70 ERA (180.0 IP, 54 ER) in 76 appearances (25 starts) since being acquired by the Rays in February 2021. His 2.46 ERA in 2022 was the second lowest in team history (min. 120 IP).
Details of Springs deal with #Rays, per source:— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) January 25, 2023
2027: $15M option or $750K buyout
Springs was, without hyperbole, one of the best left handed pitchers in baseball in 2022, even though he does not show up on the standard leader boards of starting pitchers, having started the season in the bullpen.
If you lower the innings pitched threshold to 100 IP, Springs ranked 11th in ERA (ahead of names like Max Fried, Logan Webb, Carlos Rodon), 20th in FIP (ahead of Framber Valdez and Brandon Woodruff), and 20th in K-BB% (ahead of Shane Bieber, Dylan Cease, and Luis Castillo). Despite his age and previous injuries to his knee, the Rays clearly believe Springs is legit.
Here’s more on Springs from the team press release:
Last season, he transitioned to the starting rotation in May and enjoyed a breakout campaign, going 9-5 with a 2.46 ERA (135.1-IP, 37-ER) in 33 appearances (25 starts). Min. 100 IP, his 2.46 ERA ranked second in franchise history behind Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell (1.89) in 2018, and it ranked sixth in the American League behind the top four in Cy Young Award voting—HOU Justin Verlander (1.75), CHW Dylan Cease (2.20), TOR Alek Manoah (2.24) and LAA Shohei Ohtani (2.33)—and eighth-place NYY Nestor Cortes (2.44). Min. 100 IP, Springs ranked 10th in the AL with a 29.6 pct. swing-and-miss rate, 13th with a 1.07 WHIP and 13th with a 4.65 SO/BB ratio. He allowed three runs (or fewer) in 22 of 25 starts and two runs (or fewer) 17 times. He went 6-3 with a 2.40 ERA (71.1-IP, 19-ER) in 14 starts after the All-Star break.
Last season, eight of his first nine appearances through May 3 came out of the bullpen, starting a bullpen day on April 28 (2.2 IP) over that stretch. He went 3.1 IP in relief on May 3 before officially joining the starting rotation on May 9 at the Los Angeles Angels. From April 28–May 27, he increased his workload in six consecutive appearances (five starts), including 5.2 IP and 6 IP in starts from May 21-27. He became a regular member of a starting rotation for the first time since 2017, when he spent the entire season with Class-A Down East and his first 17 appearances came as a starter, going 1-8 with a 4.60 ERA (90-IP, 46-ER) in that role. He transitioned to the Down East bullpen on July 26 that season.
Springs was acquired by the Rays with right-handed pitcher Chris Mazza and cash considerations from the Boston Red Sox on February 17, 2021 in exchange for catcher Ronaldo Hernández and minor league infielder Nick Sogard. He was selected by the Texas Rangers in the 30th round of the 2015 Amateur Draft out of Appalachian State University.
*Darby Robinson and Adam Sanford contributed to this article.