Relieving Roster Jam Will Be A Work In Progress
The Tampa Bay Rays will have to make tough decisions all winter to free up spots on their 40-man roster. The early work begins shortly after the conclusion of the World Series
Currently, the Rays have a full 40-man roster and an additional four players on the 60-day disabled list.
Pitchers Wilmer Font, Jose DeLeon, Jose Mujica, and infielder Daniel Robertson are currently on the 60-day disabled list. As such, they are not counted as part of the 40-man roster. If the Rays want to retain their services they will have to be added to the roster after the Series ends.
Most Likely To Be Removed:
Catcher Adam Moore would be the most obvious choice to remove from the roster. The 34-year old was a late addition to the roster appearing in just eight games and garnering 20 plate appearances with the team. Additionally, the Rays have catchers Jesus Sucre, Michael Perez, and Nick Ciuffo on the roster.
Next Choice Not So Obvious:
The second player is somewhat more difficult to identify but there are a few to choose from.
Left handed reliever Hoby Milner was acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies on July 15th and appeared in four games with the Rays in two stints with the team. He appeared in 15 games with the Durham Bulls logging 14.1-innings and posting a 1-0 mark with a 3.77 ERA.
Milner would be a candidate to be set free to make room on the roster. Vidal Nuno, Jose Alvarado, and Adam Kolarek are three other left handed relievers already on the roster. They also have non-traditional reliever/starter/opener Ryan Yarbrough and Anthony Banda who will miss most of 2019 after Tommy John surgery.
Vidal Nuno, 31, was one of the biggest surprises on the Rays’ staff in 2018. He appeared in 17 games posing a 3-0 mark with a 1.64 ERA (6ER/33IP). He is eligible for arbitration this off-season and will be receiving a raise from his 2017 salary of $1MM. The deadlin to tender him a contract is November 30th.
Nuno seems to be a strong non-tender candidate. It seems more likely that Tampa Bay would allow him to explore free agency while still keeping the door open for a minor league deal that includes a higher big league salary should he make the team.
Andrew Kittredge, 28, appeared in 33 games with the Rays and posted a 7.75 ERA (33ER/38.1IP). He was much more effective pitching for the Durham Bulls where he went 6-0 with a 2.74 ERA.
The Rays have a number of right handed relievers already on the roster and will be able to find a similar skill set by signing a free agent to a minor league deal.
Most Likely Duo:
The most likely duo to be removed to make room for the 60-day disabled list are Adam Moore and Andrew Kittredge. It just seems that when push comes to shove with pitching moves, left handers always have an advantage.
Once De Leon, Font, Mujica, and Robertson are added back to the roster it will once again sit at 40. The next big decision that the front office will have to make is who to protect for the Rule 5 draft.
International free agents and high school draft picks must be added to the 40-man rosters within five seasons or they become eligible to be drafted by other organizations in the Rule 5 process. College/Junior College players must be added within four season.
Clubs pay $100,000 to select a player in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft. That player has to remain on the 25-man roster for the full season or he must be offered back to his former team for $50,000. Additionally, the player must be on the active roster for 95 days or the Rule 5 conditions carry over to the following season.
Tampa Bay has been hit in the Rule 5 draft often in the past several seasons. Catcher Oscar Hernandez was the number one overall pick by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2014 Outfielder Tyler Goeddel (Philadelphia Phillies) was the overall top selection in 2015. Tampa Bay also lost Joey Rickard in the 2015 draft. They escaped the 2016 draft without losing a players. Burch Smith was selected in 2017. Smith was selected by the New York Mets and then dealt to the Kansas City Royals.
Candidates To Be Added:
Tampa Bay has one of the deeper farm systems in baseball. Naturally, they have a good number of players that they would like to protect from the draft.
That’s six more roster spots that would have to open up by November 19th. More than likely expect some trades. Tampa Bay will deal players already on the 40-man, players eligible for protection, or a combination of both.