Former Phillies pitcher Zach Eflin has signed a multi-year deal with the Rays.
After playing in parts of seven seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies, right-hander Zach Eflin has found a new baseball home much closer to where he grew up in the Sunshine State.
According to multiple reports, Eflin has signed a three-year contract with the Phillies’ 2008 World Series rival Tampa Bay Rays, pending a physical. The USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports that the deal is worth $40 million — good for the largest free-agent contract in Rays history and an average annual value (AAV) of $13.3 million. Nightengale added that the Boston Red Sox offered Eflin the same contract.
The announcement comes less than a month since Eflin declined his $15 million mutual option with the Phillies for the 2023 season and entered free agency. Interestingly, the AAV on Eflin’s new deal is lower than what he would have earned in 2023 if he stayed in Philadelphia.
A 2012 first-round pick, the Phillies acquired Eflin in December 2014 as part of the trade that sent franchise hits leader Jimmy Rollins to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Debuting in June 2016, Eflin went on to appear in 127 regular season games in red pinstripes, including 115 games as a starting pitcher. Along with a 36-45 career win-loss record, Eflin posted a 4.49 ERA, 1.295 WHIP, and 552-160 strikeouts-to-walks ratio spanning 659 1/3 innings.
Injuries limited Eflin to just 18 appearances in 2021, followed by 20 appearances this past season. The right-hander threw a combined 6 1/3 scoreless innings across the National League Championship Series against the San Diego Padres and World Series against the Houston Astros. Eflin notably struck out six of his 17 batters faced in the Fall Classic.
He also recorded a much-needed save in the 160th game of the regular season against the Astros — that secured a postseason spot — as well as in Game 2 of the National League Wild Card Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.
In mid-November, Phillies President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski was asked about the possibility of Eflin returning next season. He responded that the organization had not closed the door on a deal being worked out.
Unfortunately, the stars never aligned. Now, Dombrowski has another hole to fill this offseason as the club looks to defend its National League title in the first full season under manager Rob Thomson in 2023.