Tampa Bay Rays, Michael Wacha agree to one-year, $3 million contract

The Tampa Bay Rays have signed right-hander Michael Wacha to a one-year, $3 million contract, the team informed Friday, filling a void in the rotation left by the departure of Charlie Morton.

Wacha spent the 2020 season with the New York Mets, going 1-4 with a 6.62 ERA in eight appearances (seven starts).

The chance to compete for a World Series title played a big role in Wacha’s decision to sign with the Rays. The chance to work with pitching coach Kyle Snyder and the rest of the organization also factored in, given Tampa Bay’s long reputation of helping pitchers return to top form. Snyder and Wacha talked on the phone on Thursday and already have plans to work together at some point before the start of Spring Training.

“He’s healthy, and I like a lot of the things I saw from a video standpoint just in terms of last season,” Snyder told MLB.com. “It wouldn’t surprise me to see him come back to form the way he did those midseasons there in St. Louis.”

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The 29-year-old Wacha shined as a rookie for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2013, winning National League Championship Series MVP, but has been frequently injured since, including missing time last season with shoulder inflammation.

Wacha spent his first seven major league seasons with the Cardinals and was an All-Star in 2015. He has a 60-43 career record with a 4.01 ERA.

The Rays also revealed that they have agreed to terms with right-hander Chris Ellis on a minor league contract with an invitation to major league spring training. Ellis has one inning of major league experience, in 2019 with the Kansas City Royals.

Morton signed a one-year, $15 million contract with the Atlanta Braves last month after Tampa Bay declined his $15 million option. The 37-year-old joined the Rays in 2019 and helped Tampa Bay reach the playoffs the past two seasons. The right-hander was 3-1 with a 2.70 ERA during this year’s postseason.

Wacha’s signing also comes one day after the Rays announced that right-hander Brent Honeywell had arthroscopic elbow surgery that is not expected to affect his 2021 season.

Wacha was drafted 19th overall by St. Louis out of Texas A&M with one of two compensatory picks the Cardinals received from losing Albert Pujols as a free agent to the Los Angeles Angels.

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