On Friday, the Rays renewed reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell‘s contract for $573,700. Teams typically have the power to simply renew their younger players’ contracts at or near the league minimum salary, which this year is $555,000. In exceptional cases like Snell’s, however, teams bump up that player’s salary a bit more as a reward for performing well and to engender good will going forward. The Cubs, for example, bumped Kris Bryant up to $1.05 million after he won the NL MVP Award in 2016.
Issuing a statement from his agents at Sosnick, Cobbe & Karon, Snell said (via Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times):
The Rays have the right under the collective bargaining agreement to renew me at or near the league-minimum salary. They also have the ability to more adequately compensate me, as other organizations have done with players who have similar achievements to mine. The Rays chose the former. I will have no further comment and look forward to competing with my teammates and field staff in our quest to win the World Series in 2019.
Snell also said on Friday, via Topkin, “It’s disappointing. You want fair. But at the same time they don’t have to do it, so I understand the business side of it.”
Snell made $558,200 last season, so he got a $15,500 raise. The major league minimum salary increased $10,000 from 2018 to ’19, so it is effectively a $5,500 raise. In 2018, the 26-year-old went 21-5 with a 1.89 ERA and a 221/64 K/BB ratio in 180 2/3 innings. His 21 wins led all of baseball while his 1.89 ERA was the best mark in the AL.
Topkin notes that the Rays have a strict structure in place for players not yet eligible for arbitration. By not awarding good faith raises, the Rays will have to pay less as the player goes through his three years of salary arbitration. That being said, it seems like the Rays are already resigning themselves to watching Snell bolt into free agency in four years. If they weren’t, they would have made a good faith gesture to him rather than offend him with frugality.