On Wednesday, the Tampa Bay Rays designated third baseman Matt Duffy for assignment and traded right-hander Jose De Leon to Cincinnati in order to clear space on the 40-man roster. Tampa Bay will receive cash or a player to be named later from the Reds in exchange for De Leon. Additionally, the Rays selected the contracts of infielders Vidal Brujan, Jake Cronenworth, Kevin Padlo and Lucius Fox as well as catcher Ronaldo Hernandez.
Matt Duffy was acquired in the 2016 trade that sent Matt Moore to the San Francisco. And while he was expected to be a central point of the Rays infield, a series of injuries — Achilles, foot, hamstring, and back — sidelined Duffy for much of his tenure with Tampa Bay. He played just 199 games and totaled 809 plate appearances across three-and-one-half seasons.
Duffy appeared in 46 games after opening the 2019 season on the injured list, slashing .252 BA/.343 OBP/.327 SLG/.670 OPS/.299 wOBA with one home run, 12 RBI, and an 88 wRC+. Overall, he hit .284 with six home runs, 63 RBI, and a .708 OPS for Tampa Bay.
The Rays — who made a similar move last off-season with C.J. Cron — have seven days to trade, release, or pass Duffy through waivers. Yandy Diaz is now in line to be the primary third baseman.
De Leon missed all of the 2018 season, and the first half of 2019 while recovering from Tommy John surgery. He appeared in just four games for Tampa Bay. The right-hander was acquired in a 2017 trade with the Dodgers. De Leon never really met the high expectations set before him, spending most of 2017 with Triple-A Durham before injuring his elbow in Spring Training.
Steve Adams (MLB Trade Rumors) wrote about the five players added to the 40-man roster ahead of the 2019 Rule-5 Draft:
Brujan is the most highly regarded prospect of those protected today, ranking as a consensus top 100 prospect, and posting a combined .277/.346/.389 batting line between Class-A Advanced and Double-A as a 21-year-old. Each of Hernandez (No. 7), Cronenworth (No. 17) and Fox (No. 19) ranked inside the Rays’ top 30 at MLB.com. Fox, notably, came to the Rays in the same 2016 trade as Duffy. The 23-year-old Padlo was acquired along with Corey Dickerson in the trade that sent German Marquez to the Rockies, and he posted a robust .265/.389/.538 line between Double-A and Triple-A in 2019.