With Jeremy Hellickson returning from the minor leagues to make his second start of the season for the Tampa Bay Rays tonight, the Rays were going to have to make a move to accommodate him. It was not going to be an easy choice. Cole Figueroa could have been optioned back to Triple-A, but that would have left them with a shortened bench. Erik Bedard could have been designated for assignment, but that would have weakened their starting depth. Jeff Beliveau was another possibility to be optioned, but he has provided the Rays with the type of lefty specialist they have been missing all season. At the end of the day, the decision was made to designate Juan Carlos Oviedo for assignment, as reported by Marc Topkin, and it looks like the right choice.
As Drew discussed a few days ago, it made sense for Oviedo to go because his role on the team was rapidly diminishing. The Rays have played 18 games in July, and Juan Carlos Oviedo has appeared in a grand total of four of them. Jake McGee, Brad Boxberger, Joel Peralta (when he returns), Kirby Yates, and arguably Grant Balfour are ahead of him on the food chain, and Oviedo became an unnecessary part. It is not as though he has pitched badly this season–he has a 3.69 ERA in 32 appearances–but his 7.4 K/9, 4.5 BB/9, and 0.9 HR/9 have made him an untrustworthy reliever, and the Rays decided to move on. Oviedo still deserves to be a major league reliever, making a little bit strange that he is being designated for assignment, but Oviedo’s abilities make it likely that he will be traded rather than released, and the Rays could wind up getting a prospect in return for him.
Juan Carlos Oviedo leaving instead of Jeff Beliveau being optioned appears to paint a positive picture in regards to Beliveau’s place on the team. If the same logic holds, it looks like Erik Bedard and not Beliveau will be out the door when Joel Peralta returns on Monday.