A lot has happened to the Tampa Bay Rays’ 40-man roster in the past few hours, and let’s try to sort through the madness.
As it turns out, we correctly predicted the prospects the Rays would protect from the Rule 5 Draft five days ago. Now, it’s time to humble ourselves. Ryan Brett, Justin O’Conner, Matt Andriese, and Mikie Mahtook were no-brainers, and the only pick we really were smart about was choosing Grayson Garvin over Adam Liberatore and Taylor Motter. Garvin got the nod because he has much higher upside than the other two while still being a likely contributor to their big league team (although that may come in relief).
Of course, we got the players the Rays would designate for assignment totally wrong. The Rays did indeed decide to say goodbye to Jose Molina, and Michael Kohn will go along with him. Kohn seemed like a lock for the Rays’ 2015 bullpen after they signed him to a major league contract, but evidently they changed their minds. Steve Geltz and Brandon Gomes will get a breathe a little easier as they are still around. We did get right that Cole Figueroa would be DFA’d as well.
And now, to the trade. Speaking of Adam Liberatore, he was going to be lost for nothing if the Rays didn’t trade him, so that’s exactly what they did. More importantly, the Rays look very smart for picking up Joel Peralta‘s option as they were able to deal him as well. The trade: Peralta and Liberatore to the Los Angeles Dodgers for right-handers Jose Dominguez and Greg Harris. It did not take long for Matt Silverman to conduct his first trade with Andrew Friedman.
Why did the Rays change their minds about Kohn? The reason is probably Dominguez. He has only made 14 big league appearances with poor results the last two years, but his stuff is absolutely electric. He has averaged an insane 98.36 MPH with his fastball when Pitch F/X has been able to record him, and he pairs it with a solid slider in the mid-80’s. Kohn looked like a good buy-low candidate, but Dominguez is a great one. He should be given a chance to make the Rays’ Opening Day bullpen, but the Rays may start him in the minors like they did with Brad Boxberger to give him more instruction and help him reach his late-inning upside.
Harris, meanwhile, is a 20 year old who was the Dodgers’ 17th round pick in 2013. He posted an unimpressive 4.45 ERA in 87 innings pitched at Low-A this year, but he actually managed impressive peripherals. He put up a strong 92-28 strikeout to walk ratio while allowing just 0.7 home runs per 9 innings. MLB.com was sufficiently impressed to name him the Dodgers’ 20th best prospect (Dominguez was 13th). Harris has stayed mostly 88-92 MPH with his fastball but has sparingly reached the mid-90’s. He also throws a curveball and changeup, although both need plenty of work.
Overall, the Rays turned a pitcher they were about to lose for nothing and a relief arm coming off a poor season for a pitcher who has touched triple-digits and a starting pitching prospect with some upside. From Friedman’s point of view, he bought low on two potentially effective relievers, but Silverman and the Rays will certainly take their end of the deal.