On Friday night, the Tampa Bay Rays added five players to the 40-man roster ahead of the Rule-5 Draft: RHP’s Jacob Faria, Taylor Guerrieri and German Marquez; LHP Blake Snell, and utility-man Taylor Motter. To make room on the 40-man roster, the team designated catcher J.P. Arencibia, outfielder Daniel Nava, and RHPs Brandon Gomes and Kirby Yates for assignment.
In addition, Tampa Bay outrighted LPH Grayson Garvin and RHP Burch Smith to the Triple-A Durham Bulls.
That the front office chose to designate Arencibia is somewhat surprising, after all he was very impressive in his 73 plate appearances toward the end of the season. J.P. collected a .310 BA/.315 OBP/.606 SLG/.921 OPS slash line with six home runs. However, there is no indication that he’d be able to replicate (or even come close to) that line in 2016.
As Ian Malinowski (DRaysBay) sees it:
Arencibia has always been a one-trick pony, with a high strikeout rate and a minuscule walk rate, and last season he was even more extreme than usual, striking out 30.1% of the time and only walking 1.4% of the time. And never before in his big-league career has Arencibia been an above-average hitter, so those peripherals are a good reason to suspect that he has not, in fact, turned the corner.
Steamer projects that both Arencibia* and Rene Rivera will perform similarly to one another in 2016 ― .202 BA/.239 OBP/.369 SLG/.608 OPS vs. .218 BA/.265 OBP/.337 SLG/.602 OPS. Faced with having to choose between a pair of weak number-nine hitters, Matt Silverman chose the catcher with the better defensive peripherals.
It is thought that both Snell and Motter have a chance at cracking the Opening Day roster.
Snell, who was one of the most frequently spoken of prospects in 2015, jumped three levels and took home Baseball America’s prestigious Player of the Year award. The lefty hurled 46 scoreless innings to start the season, and collected a minuscule 1.41 ERA. His 163 strikeouts in 134 innings (good enough for fourth in the minors) wasn’t too shabby either.
The 26 year-old Motter slashed .292 BA/.366 OBP/.471 SLG/.837 OPS with Triple-A Durham last season, also collecting 14 homers and 43 doubles. The utility player spent time at every defensive position with the exceptions of first base and catcher.
The front office also had to make some tough decisions of who to leave off the 40-man roster. Because of it, outfielders Tyler Goeddel and Joey Rickard, shortstop Jake Hager, RHP Jeff Ames, LHP Jonny Venters, and infielder Patrick Leonard are susceptible to be picked up by another team in the Rule-5 Draft. Scott Grauer (DRaysBay) wrote an excellent piece on those players, and it’s worth the read.
*Granted Steamer also projects Arencibia to collect just one at-bat next season, so…
The Tampa Bay Rays have claimed RHP Chase Whitley off waivers from the New York Yankees.
Per Steve Adams (MLB Trade Rumors):
Whitley, 26, underwent Tommy John surgery in May after having thrown 19 1/3 useful innings for the Yankees early in the season. The former 15th-rounder posted a 4.19 ERA with a 16-to-5 K/BB ratio across four starts in the Yankees’ rotation before falling to injury.
Given the timing of his operation, Whitley won’t be ready to open the season on the Rays’ roster, so he’ll presumably land on the 60-day DL to begin next season (assuming he survives the winter on the 40-man roster). He’ll provide the Rays with an MLB-ready pitching option once healthy, however, replenishing some depth lost by Tampa Bay following the trade of Nate Karns. Whitley has a career 2.89 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 196 1/3 career innings at the Triple-A level.
Whitley boasts an upper 80’s fastball, a mid 80’s slider, a low 80’s change-up, and a low 90’s two-seam fastball. He started to mix in a curveball last season as well.
Because of his left/right splits ― left handed hitters dominated Whitley to the tune of a .326 OBA/.377 OBP/.542 SLG/.919 OPS, compared to a .266 BA/.316 OBP/.400 SLG/.716 OPS against righties ― and because the Rays likely have a full starting rotation at their disposal, it’s thought that Chase will be used out of the ‘pen once he returns in July.