Rays sign Kluber, Raley

Things got exciting on the free agency side of Major League Baseball with the impending lockout looming in early December.

The Rays were part of that frenzy as Tampa Bay ended up signing two pitchers, Corey Kluber and Brooks Raley, before what is now the ninth work-related stoppage in league history.

On Nov. 28, Rays signed Kluber to a one-year, $8 million deal plus up to $5 million in incentives and his signing was made official in a press conference on Dec. 1.

Kluber, 35, went 5-3 in 16 starts last season with the New York Yankees, recording a 1.4 bWAR, 112 ERA+, 3.82 ERA and 82 strikeouts in 80 innings pitched.

A significant right shoulder muscle strain sidelined Kluber for three months, and injury concern was a question coming into the 2021 season after he had started just eight games the past two seasons combined.

While starting just 16 games, Kluber showed glimpses of his former two-time Cy Young self, especially on May 19, when he threw the first no-hitter of his career against his former team, the Texas Rangers.

The Rays are taking a calculated risk on Kluber like they did Chris Archer and Michael Wacha last season, spending what could be the same amount of money on one pitcher as they did two.

However, having a veteran pitcher on the staff like Kluber is going to pay dividends compared to the latter two in 2022, hoping all goes according to plan.

Just a day later, the Rays signed Raley to a two-year, $10 million deal with a third-year club option. The 33-year old left hander has pitched for the Cincinnati Reds and Houston Astros over the past two seasons after pitching five years for the Lotte Giants of the Korea Baseball Organization.

Raley is part of a movement of MLB players making a name for themselves in South Korea or Japan before coming back to the states and he brings with him a great pitcher arsenal.

Over 58 outings in 2021, Raley struck out 65 batters over 49 innings pitched, posting an 11.9 K/9 rate and a 3.27 FIP. Under the coaching of Kyle Snyder, Raley should be a great fit in the bullpen for the Rays, especially since he’s a left-hander.

If Tampa Bay gets back Jalen Beeks and Colin Poche back for the 2022 season, those three are going to be important pieces for this team.

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