The Zach Eflin era is over in Philadelphia.
Eflin, who spent 2022 as one of the longest-tenured Phillies on the roster and battled injuries throughout the season before moving to a bullpen role during the postseason, is headed to Tampa Bay to join the Rays on a three-year, $40 million deal, multiple outlets are reporting:
Eflin could've returned to Philly in 2023 to defend the NL pennant but he declined his side of a $15 million mutual option.
Now he signs a deal that represents a move back to his home state of Florida for Eflin, a big pay day for the 28-year-old, and the biggest free agent deal in Rays history. That's wild!
Good for Eflin. He was a useful part of the Phillies' organization for the better part of the past decade after the team acquired him in the Jimmy Rollins trade way back in 2014, and he endured some really ugly baseball before closing his time out in Philly with a World Series run. That's cool.
This always felt like the most likely scenario for the Phillies-Eflin marriage this offseason. Eflin wants to remain a starter rather than become a bullpen guy, and while they certainly would've found a place for him in the rotation the Phillies probably don't want to pay a No. 4 or No. 5 guy the kind of money Eflin wanted to make on a multi-year deal. Their top three starters are locked in with Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, and Ranger Suarez - and there's reason to believe much-ballyhooed prospect Andrew Painter will be up sooner rather than later in 2023 and quickly inserted into the rotation.
Eflin leaves Philly with a lifetime ERA of 4.49, five complete games and three shutouts, 552 career strikeouts, and a 3.45 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Not bad stuff.
His total starts have been down the last two years from his peaks in 2018 and 2019, though, with just 31 starts combined in 2021 and 2022 after starting 24 games in 2018 and 28 games in 2019. Eflin had surgery on both knees early in his career to try and alleviate patellar tendinitis, and had knee issues this past season that cost him two and a half months.
Hopefully Eflin is able to stay healthy, return to form, and make the Rays happy they dished out for his abilities on the mound.