The Tampa Bay Rays stayed active on Tuesday, dealing left-hander Jose Alvarado to Philadelphia in a three-team deal. As part of the swap, the Rays received minor league first baseman Dillon Paulson and a player to be named later or cash considerations from the Dodgers.
During the 2018 campaign, Alvarado posted a 2.39 ERA and 11.3 K/9 across 64 relief frames (70 games). Yet injuries hampered the left-hander the last two seasons, resulting in a 5.08 ERA and a 1.58 K/BB over 39 total innings. The lefty missed a lot of bats, yet a lack of control (7.6 BB/9) countered those punchouts. Shoulder inflammation limited the 25-year-old hurler to just nine regular-season innings last season, although he was able to toss 1-2/3 scoreless innings to contribute to the Rays’ victory over the Astros in the ALCS.
Paulson, 23, was a 13th-round pick for the Dodgers in the 2018 draft and hit .253 BA/.373 OBP/.464 SLG/.837 OPS with 47 doubles, 26 home runs, 125 RBI, and 124 walks over 778 plate appearances (over two seasons) in the Dodgers organization during his brief professional career, reaching the High-A level in 2019.
In dealing Alvarado, Tampa Bay opened up a 40-man roster spot that was needed for the completion of the Blake Snell trade with San Diego.
Erik Neander on the Snell trade
In a Zoom call with the media on Tuesday Rays Executive Vice President/General Manager Erik Neander told Neil Solondz (Rays Radio) and others that the Blake Snell trade created a step back for the 2021 squad in the present tense, however, he also believes the team will still be very good and that’s there’s enough time in the off-season to add to the group.
We have players on hand that are prepared to step up and assume greater roles as we go along. Being really good in 2021 is really important to us especially given what our players just accomplished. But at least as important is that we’re really good for a long time without interruption.— Erik Neander
The Rays GM Neander said he had honest conversations with several returning players and understands why some of them didn’t want to see Snell traded after the 2020 World Series appearance.
You owe them honesty in these situations. We have an awful lot of confidence in the group that we (still) have. These guys have won an awful lot of games the last few years with Blake on the mound and with other pitchers on the mound.— Erik Neander
Neander also noted why the decision was made to pull the trigger on a deal that many feel to be a lateral move, in that it did not necessarily improve the team.
This was done not because we were looking to move Blake. This was done in large part because of the talent that we’re getting back. That was the big driver for us here.— Erik Neander
Neander clearly felt good about the decision based on the players the team received in return as well as the players they currently have. He spoke very highly of RHP Luis Patiño, the 21-year-old who boasts a blazing four-seam fastball that averages nearly 97 mph.
We think the world of him. … You’re talking about an incredible athlete. You’re talking about someone with top-notch aptitude and makeup.— Erik Neander
Aside from Patiño, Neander felt 25-year-old catcher Francisco Mejía is another player that can help the Rays in 2021, although he conceded that Mejía needs some work defensively. The Rays GM felt that Mejía — who is expected to get most of his work behind the plate — would benefit from a change of scenery.
In spite of the trade, Neander expects the 2021 Rays to be contenders.
By no means is this any sort of white flag on this season. We have a lot of confidence in the group that we have here and we’ve got a lot of time left to continue to build this club out and to get this puzzle where we want it.— Erik Neander
Yet without Snell and Charlie Morton, that task has been made more difficult.
We’ve got a lot of work to do. We also have a lot of confidence in the young pitching that hasn’t yet established themselves.— Erik Neander
Part of that will be assessing the young group they currently have including Patiño, Joe Ryan, Shane McClanahan, and Brent Honeywell. And while 2021 could be a transition year for the Rays pitching staff, Neander is expected to continue to look to add a more experienced starter.
— The Rays added to their catching depth by re-signing 32-year-old Kevan Smith to a minor-league deal.