Free-agent right-handed starter Zach Eflin has reportedly agreed to a three-year deal with the Tampa Bay Rays. Eflin, 28, had spent his first seven major league seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies. Jeff Passan of ESPN first reported the deal. Joel Sherman of the New York Post later reported that the deal is for $40 million over three years, pending a physical. Usually a starter, Eflin served as a reliever upon his return from injury late this past season. The plan is for him to return to starting duty, per Sherman.
The deal is pending a physical. The plan is for Eflin to return as a SP. https://t.co/sxotJWErep
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) December 2, 2022
This means Zach Eflin will join an already formidable Rays rotation, which wields names such as Tyler Glasnow and Shane McClanahan. They will hope Eflin, like Glasnow, can have a strong bounce-back year following an injury-hampered 2022.
Zach Eflin Heads to the AL East
Eflin is a seven-year veteran, making his major league debut in June 2016 with the Phillies. A first-round draft pick in 2012, he has a career record of 36-45 with an ERA of 4.49, a 1.295 WHIP, and 552 strikeouts in 659 1/3 innings pitched. His two best years came in 2018 and 2019, the only two in which he started 20 or more games. In those seasons, Eflin logged strikeout totals of 123 and 129, respectively. He also enjoyed some success in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, posting a career-best 3.97 ERA and averaging 10.7 strikeouts per nine innings.
Unfortunately, Eflin missed over two months in 2022 with a right knee contusion. He hurt the same knee the previous year. However, upon his return, he became effective out of the bullpen. Eflin earned a save against the St. Louis Cardinals to clinch the Phils’ Wild Card Series and pitched to a 3.38 ERA in 10 postseason appearances. He did not give up a run in six outings between the NLCS and World Series.
Perhaps this postseason success gave Rays front office confidence that Eflin is back and can start next year. Tampa Bay has a knack for assembling an excellent pitching staff. Whether homegrown or acquired, starting pitchers have found success in St. Pete more often than not in recent years. In that vein, it seems Zach Eflin could be another wise signing by the Rays. If the pattern holds, Tampa Bay’s rotation should again be a force in the American League.
Lewis Masella is a contributing writer for Last Word on Baseball. He graduated from SUNY Albany in 2018 after majoring in both journalism and political science. A New York native, he is a lifelong Yankees fan. Baseball is his favorite sport, but he is also a devoted fan of other NY sports teams, including the Giants, Rangers, Knicks and Syracuse basketball. Lewis's other interests include movies, TV, music, trivia and history.