Blake Snell won the 2018 AL Cy Young Award.

By Jenna West
March 21, 2019

The Tampa Bay Rays have signed ace Blake Snell to a five-year, $50 million extension, the club announced on Thursday.

The deal will extend through 2023, covering this season, Snell's three arbitration years and his first year of free agency. Snell will receive a $3 million signing bonus and could also earn an additional $2 million in incentives, per the Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin.

It is the largest deal in Major League history given to a pitcher before reaching arbitration.

"Since being drafted in 2011, Blake’s talent and hard work have enabled him to establish himself as one of the most dominant pitchers in the game," Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg said. "We’re looking forward to seeing him take the mound for the Rays for years to come."

Snell, 26, capped off an incredible 2018 campaign by winning the American League Cy Young Award and became only the second Ray in club history to take home the honor. David Price won the award in 2012. Snell led the league last year with 21 wins and ranked first in the AL in ERA (1.89), while also recording 221 strike outs in his 31 starts. The lefty allowed just two or fewer runs in 27 of his 31 starts, winning nine straight down the stretch with a 1.03 ERA in that span.

Snell earned his first All-Star nod last year when he replaced Indians starter Corey Kluber on the roster. When Snell was initially left off of the roster, many people were critical of the snub.

The Rays selected Snell in the first round of the 2011 draft out of high school and he made his major league debut in 2016. 

The club's deal with Snell is its second of the week after the Rays signed infielder Brandon Lowe to a six-year deal on Wednesday. Lowe's contract runs through 2024 but includes options for 2025 and 2026. He will receive at least $24 million and possibly up to $49 million with options and incentives.

Snell will make his first career Opening Day start for the Rays at Tropicana Field on March 28. He'll face off against the Houston Astros and ace Justin Verlander, with the first pitch slated for 4 p.m. ET.

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