Robbie Ray was given $8,000,000 by the Blue Jays to be a pitcher, but he’s also doing a little PR work on the side.
The newly-signed Ray held a media availability over Zoom on Monday in which he talked about his decision to stick around in Toronto (Buffalo? Somewhere???). Ray noted that he fit in very well with the club right off the hop and that he liked the idea of a one-year deal because he could rebuild his value and test free agency again next winter. Pretty standard stuff.
The most interesting part of the interview, though, was Ray’s response to what he would tell other free agents when it comes to the uncertainty around where the Blue Jays would play next season. To that, Ray suggested not to worry about it and to instead worry about the group the Blue Jays have in their clubhouse and on their staff.
“Don’t be concerned about where we play, just be concerned about the guys in the clubhouse, the staff that we have,” Ray said. “The coaching staff, the training staff, they’re all top-notch. This team is really good.”
This is definitely a nice thing to hear. We’ve heard over and over again that the Blue Jays are being aggressive with free agents this winter and that they’re in a great position to make some major additions, but there’s obviously some worry about signability right now given the team might not be able to play in Toronto when the 2021 season kicks off.
Back in October, Matt Shoemaker mentioned that he figured that the Blue Jays not having a certain home would be an obstacle when courting free agents…
“If COVID-19 is still a factor … that could play a huge aspect in anybody coming to Toronto, and hopefully it doesn’t,” Shoemaker said on Sportsnet’s “The Good Show” on back in October. “I think in general, before this season, everybody loves coming to Toronto when they play them on the road.
“If Toronto wants you and they want to sign you to a deal, oh, but hey, the government still says, ‘You guys have to play in a bubble,’ (and) maybe you’re the only team (in a bubble) because it’s Canada, and your family can’t come, that would be a really big discussion.”
It’s difficult to say how much Ray’s words mean to other players around the league, but hopefully, the sentiment of joining a good, young team with a quality coaching and training staff piques the interest of other free agents.
I do believe that ultimately money talks. If the Blue Jays are negotiating with a player who’s nervous about the border situation, a fat cheque will more than likely numb that anxiety.