Age: November 23rd, 1989 (32 years old)
2022 Traditional Stats: 32 appearances (24 starts), 3.01 ERA, 134.1 IP, 111 K, 1.02 WHIP
2022 Advanced Stats: 20.7 K%, 3.7 BB%, 0.80 HR/9, 3.57 xERA, 3.67 xFIP, 3.1 fWAR
Ross Stripling Turns in a Stellar 2022 Campaign
Recently the Toronto Blue Jays have had a couple of players cash in on contract walk years, with Robbie Ray and Marcus Semien turning strong 2021 campaigns into lucrative long-term contracts with the Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers respectively. Ross Stripling will be looking to do the same, as the Pennsylvania product heads to free agency for the first time in his career.
Acquired at the 2020 trade deadline from the Los Angeles Dodgers, Stripling has been used in various areas since joining the Blue Jays. A swingman by trade, the right-hander has seen his role in the rotation increase over the past two seasons due to various injuries and depth issues within the Blue Jays system.
While his first 1.5 seasons with the Jays didn’t yield spectacular results, Stripling emerged as one of the go-to guys in the rotation after Hyun-jin Ryu underwent Tommy Johns surgery, holding opposing hitters to a .229 batting average and 43 runs through 24 starts this year. His 2.92 ERA as a member of the rotation was one of the top stats on the team and saw him leapfrog a struggling José Berríos on the depth charts. His 3.1 fWAR and 134 1/3 innings pitched are both career highs and he will likely be looking to cash in this offseason.
The Blue Jays will have to make a decision on whether to extend a qualifying offer to the right-hander, which is valued at $19.65 million this offseason. The Jays would be pushing the luxury tax should he accept the one-year deal.
If the front office is serious about pursuing Stripling this winter, it will likely be in the form of a multi-year deal that is lower in value compared to the QO but easily higher than the $3.79 million he earned during his last year of arbitration.
Considering Stripling is on the other side of 30 years old, most teams probable won’t go beyond a three-to-four year deal if he were to net a multi-year contract. Still, it will be interesting to see how different teams project his value, whether they believe he is a dedicated starter or if he will move to either a relief/swingman role that Jays’ fans have been used to seeing since mid-2020.
His ability to be a dependable arm no matter the role may actually hinder him during free agency, particularly if he views himself as a starter moving forward.
Stripling has expressed interest in returning to the Blue Jays, “[The Jays] are exciting to be a part of and the future is obviously very bright. So I’d love to be a part of it, for sure,” while general manager Ross Atkins wasn’t so quick to tip his hand on what they plan to do during the year-end press conference.
That being said, there are quite a few teams that could utilize his service this offseason but one would imagine Stripling will likely go to where he will get an opportunity to start rather than move back to the bullpen, especially after the year he had.
This could bode well for a few teams who could lose an arm or two to free agency/retirement this year like the St. Louis Cardinals, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Mets, and the Los Angeles Dodgers (amongst others).
Should the Jays present him with a qualifying offer, I don’t see him turning it down. Getting close to $20 million is more than he can expect to make in 2023 on any other contract he could bet on himself to go for a long-term deal next offseason, without the QO attached.
We will have to wait and see on that front once the World Series is over. Regardless of where he signs, Ross Stripling will be cashing in this winter after a successful 2022 campaign.