Breaking News: Rays Non-Tender Wesley Wright

By Robbie Knopf

When the Tampa Bay Rays acquired Wesley Wright off waivers from the Houston Astros, they acquired him with the possibility of retaining him for two more years under team control. Instead, even Wright’s status for next season is in question as the Rays followed up their non-tender of Sam Fuld by declining to tender Wright a contract as well, as reported by Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune.

Wright, 28, pitched well in his limited sample with the Rays, managing a 2.92 ERA and a 15-3 strikeout to walk ratio in 12.1 innings pitched. His one flaw was allowing two home runs (1.5 HR/9), but on the whole he pitched very well and appeared to have his spot nailed down for next year. However, two factors were going against him. Firstly, he was projected to make $1.4 million through arbitration, and secondly, he wasn’t very good against lefties overall on the season, allowing a .753 OPS. The short time Wright spent with the Rays was not enough to convince them that he was worth that type of money.

Wright was expendable because of the numerous left-handed options the Rays have on their 40-man roster. Alex Torres and Jake McGee are both set to handle the late innings as opposed to being situational types, but Cesar Ramos, Jeff Beliveau, and prospect C.J. Riefenhauser could all be options to fill that role next season. The thinking on the Rays’ part was that inconsistent lefties like Wright are dime-a-dozen and they saw an easy opportunity to save some money to use elsewhere on the roster.

Unlike Fuld, there is a real chance that Wright could return, but it would be on the Rays’ terms. We just saw that the Rays declined Juan Carlos Oviedo‘s $2 million option only to bring him back at a lesser cost. There is a chance that they could do the exact same thing with Wright and are set to sign him for a little over $1 million in the next few days. But with Wright on the open market, you never know what will happen to his price, and the odds are that he will not be coming back.

The Rays’ non-tendering of Oviedo is a coup for the Rays’ remaining lefties, all of whom could be set to compete for big league spots in spring training. Ramos is set to make only $700,000, and unless he is about to get non-tendered himself, it looks like he will have a chance to fill the long relief role he was in most of 2013. Beliveau, meanwhile, has to be happy that he has survived this long. He could have been designated for assignment to accommodate a player like Adam Liberatore on the 40-man roster or Wright’s return could have been his ticket out the door, but he is still here and may finally get his chance next year. Finally, Riefenhuaser is set to start 2014 back at Triple-A, but with an established arm like Wright not present for now, the odds of him working his way into a big league role are getting higher and higher.