PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — AL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell will go into his first career opening-day start with a lot more financial security than he envisioned just a few days ago.
The 26-year-old left-hander said Thursday he was almost certain he wouldn’t receive the raise he felt he deserved until he hit arbitration next winter until he and the Tampa Bay Rays agreed to a $50 million, five-year contract that will keep him with the team through 2023.
“I’m excited we got it done. Honestly, surprised,” Snell said, adding that negotiations intensified in the past three or four days.
The deal covers three seasons of arbitration eligibility plus one year after he could have become a free agent.
It also comes less than two weeks after the Rays renewed Snell’s contract at a salary of $573,700 for the upcoming season. That would have been a raise of just $15,500 from 2018, when he led the major leagues with 21 wins.
The new contract includes a $3 million signing bonus payable within 30 days of the deal’s approval by Major League Baseball and a raise to $1 million for this season. He gets $7 million in 2020, $10.5 million in 2021, $12.5 million in 2022 and $16 million in 2023. His 2023 salary could escalate by up to $2 million based on Cy Young Award voting in the first four years: $1 million for each win, $500,000 for each second-place finish and $250,000 for each third-place finish.
“It’s just a perfect deal for me, a deal I’m very comfortable with,” Snell said, reiterating his strong desire to remain with the Rays,
Tampa Bay launched a youth movement a year ago and still wound up winning 90 games — more than any other team that didn’t make the playoffs.