Which Non-Tendered Pitchers Could the Tampa Bay Rays Pursue?
By Robbie Knopf
Last night was the deadline for teams to tender contracts to their arbitration-eligible players and the Tampa Bay Rays unsurprisingly did so for all of their eligible players. After all, those players were ace Alex Cobb, closer Jake McGee, another strong starter in Drew Smyly, two good outfielders in Desmond Jennings and Matt Joyce, and a decent enough bench player in Logan Forsythe. The DFA and subsequent trade of Sean Rodriguez removed any ambiguity regarding Forsythe and made the Rays tendering contacts to everyone a foregone conclusion.
Other teams, however, did let players go, and a few of the now-available names are quite interesting. Some players were non-tendered has more to the money they are projected to make rather than an inability to help big league teams. Let’s go rapid-fire through the recently non-tendered players and get insight into which of them the Rays will consider signing. We’ll do pitchers now and position players tomorrow.
Brandon Beachy: In a vacuum, it isn’t difficult to imagine the Rays giving Beachy say a one-year, $2.5 million deal with a 2016 team option as he recovers from Tommy John Surgery. However, they simply don’t need a starting pitcher that much.
Francisley Bueno: He looked decent enough for the Royals this year, but he’ll head to a team with less bullpen depth that the Rays.
Jose Campos: He’s a former top prospect, but hasn’t pitched above Low-A and was out for 2014. Nevertheless, the Rays would have nothing to lose giving him a minor league deal.
Scott Carroll: His big league debut was an excellent start against the Rays, but he looked mediocre thereafter. He’ll be Triple-A starting depth for some other team.
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Yoslan Herrera: He’s 33, but he looked OK for the Angels this year and has intriguing stuff. He averaged 94 MPH with his fastball while showing promise with a curveball and changeup. The Rays would definitely offer him a minor league deal if not a cheap big league contract.
David Huff: He had a good ERA in 30 appearances for the Yankees, but with poor peripherals and middling stuff. He would get a better opportunity with a team other than the Rays.
Michael Kirkman: The Rays have no need for a lefty with poor stuff.
Wade LeBlanc: LeBlanc has unimpressive stuff and a poor big league track record. The Rays could always use more depth, though, so it’s not out of the question that they would give him a minor league contract.
Kris Medlen: The Rays once drafted Medlen and probably still like him, but they simply don’t have that big of a need for a starting pitcher right now, let alone one that will cost as much as him.
Alexi Ogando: The Rays have a need in the bullpen and could use another fifth starter candidate as they wait for Matt Moore to return. Ogando could be a great fit if the price stays low–it’s hard to see the Rays offering him more than say $2.5 million on a one-year deal, and even that may be a stretch.
Logan Ondrusek: His numbers have never looked great, but he throws 94 MPH with a decent cutter and has shown better peripherals the last two years. The Rays could certainly sign him to a Mark Lowe-esque minor league deal.
Curtis Partch: Another hard-thrower with a decent breaking ball, but he didn’t even look good at Triple-A this year. He’ll better fit other team’s needs.
Chaz Roe: He’s a sinker-slider reliever who pitched well in the Pacific Coast League. He’d have a better opportunity for a big league role elsewhere.
Gus Schlosser: He has fringy stuff and got lit up in the big leagues this year. He will likely head to another team as starting depth.
Kraig Sitton: He was unimpressive at Double-A and isn’t young. The Rays have enough guys who fit that description.
Scott Snodgress: The lefty got lit up in 4 big league appearances and has unimpressive stuff. He has youth in his favor, though–he just turned 25–and he has retired lefties in the minors. He could be worth a look on a minor league deal.
Wesley Wright: The ex-Ray is a rock-solid lefty reliever–it seems surprising that he was a non-tender. The Rays would be interested, but they already have Jeff Beliveau as their bullpen left-hander.
Overall, the best fits for the Tampa Bay Rays look like Herrera and Ondrusek, with Ogando being an interesting player to watch as well. The Rays have proven themselves adept at turning inconsistent relievers with good stuff into prized assets, and maybe someone on this list is the next in line.