ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The Rays and pitcher Zach Eflin both got early Christmas presents.
The Rays added to their already talented starting rotation, and for Elfin, it’s a chance of a lifetime to come with his fast-growing family and pitch for what he considers his hometown team.
Eflin grew up in the Orlando area and attended Rays games at the Trop as a kid.
“Comin’ over Red Sox games, Yankees games, we came over all the time,” Eflin said. “There was a group of like eight, ten of us every time. Just really cool to be up here right now.”
Eflin went to Hagerty High School in Oviedo and was scouted by the Rays in high school. The tall right-hander was a first-round pick by the San Diego Padres and was traded to the Dodgers and then the Phillies. Eflin spent portions of seven seasons with the Phillies.
The Rays have a reputation for getting the best out of their players and especially taking good care of their pitching staff. Eflin talked about that with some former Rays pitchers, Charlie Morton and Jeremy Hellickson.
“They had the best and nicest things to say about this organization,” Eflin said. “They’re (Rays) want and drive to get people better. That’s what I kind of want to surround myself with. A bunch of guys that just want to get better and play in the final game of the season and win it.” Another reason that made it easy was hearing about how great the clubhouse is. How well these guys get together and the families that are here, so like I said, we’re very, very thankful.”
Eflin and his wife are expecting twin girls on top of a 14-month-old daughter. Eflin said one of the deciding factors was when the Rays’ brain trust led by baseball operations head Eric Neander came to his house in the Orlando area, brought food, and just talked with the Eflin family.
“For them to come over, drive over, all of them and bring over dinner and talk about kind of everything. It’s a lot more personal when you do it that way, and that sits well with my family.”
Eflin will join a Rays rotation that includes All-Star starter Shane McClanahan and righty’s Tyler Glasnow and Drew Rasmussen.
Eflin had nothing but good things to say about his former club, the Philadelphia Phillies. he just thinks now it’s time for a change.
“I had an amazing time in Philly,” Eflin said. ‘I got traded over as a kid and became a Man with that organization. I made lifelong friends. He had an awesome run last year, but at the end of the day, it was time for me to take care of my family and come to a place that I felt very wanted.”
The Rays will pay Eflin $40 million dollars over the next three years, fully guaranteed. It’s the largest contract ever given to a free agent in the Rays’ history.