Tampa Bay Rays Sign Cory Wade

On the day they learned that 2010 bullpen breakout Joaquin Benoit would be playing for the Detroit Tigers for the next three seasons ($16.5 million), the Tampa Bay Rays signed a potential sleeper for the 2011 pen. According to Matt Eddy, the Rays and former Los Angeles Dodger reliever Cory Wade have agreed on a minor-league deal.

Wade, 27, made his big league debut in 2008. In 71.1 innings as a rookie, he had a 2.27 ERA. In 82 career appearances, he has pitched 99 innings with a 3.18 ERA. Shoulder surgery wiped out most of his 2010, but he did come back to toss nearly 30 innings at the Triple-A level.

In terms of stuff, Wade has a pretty average fastball. When healthy he can get it up to 91 miles per hour, but tends to live around 88-90. What he lacks in velocity he makes up for in control. In his brief major league career, he has handed out just 25 walks in nearly 100 innings.

Wade had some decent strikeout rates as a minor leaguer, but has been mostly average as a big leaguer. That said, his secondary offerings – an above-average curveball and a good change-up – generate swings and misses. Although he is a right-handed pitcher, he has used that change-up to neutralize left-handed batters.

Of course, when you sign a guy to a minor-league deal you expect some flaws. Wade is a flyball pitcher who has had some issues with home runs in the past. There is also the health factor as he is coming off a shoulder injury. Going forward, he’s probably closer to a 3.50-4.0 ERA guy than the 2.27 he had in 2008.; however, that’s not to bad for a minor-league deal.

When you consider the cost, the fact that he’s not yet arbitration eligible – meaning team controlled beyond 2011 – the past success in the big leagues, and the slight flaws, the signing is a classic Rays move. Also factor in his ability to generate whiffs and get both lefties as well as righties out.

We are along way from camp,but don’t be surprised if (a healthy) Wade lands a role in Rays’ 2011 bullpen.