Ryan Roberts has some talents. He can hit left-handed pitching extremely well and can play every infield position but shortstop. At the end of the day, though, especially with Sean Rodriguez on this Rays team, he was preeminently replacable. Roberts was sent down several times but kept coming back because of his major league skill-set. Now, however, with Alex Cobb coming back and requiring not just a 25-man roster spot but a 40-man roster spot as well since he’s coming off the 60-day DL, it was time for Roberts to go. Roberts has been designated for assignment and there is a good chance he will pass through waivers and remain in the organization. Roberts has his talents, but you have to be willing to sacrifice marginal benefits for larger ones. Getting Roberts off the 40-man roster is doing exactly that.
Why Roberts and not Jason Bourgeois? No, the answer is not that Bourgeois had the walk-off hit yesterday while Roberts sputtered in his pinch-hit appearance. Bourgeois gives this Rays team two important things: a player who can play centerfield and a pinch-runner. Roberts doesn’t do anything that another player on the team can’t do. Bourgeois will likely depart when Desmond Jennings returns, but for now, he has value. Roberts is a major league player and it would be nice for him if another team claims him on waivers, but on this team he’s redundant. He was a placeholder until somebody came off the disabled list, and that player turned out to be Alex Cobb.