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Tampa Bay Rays: Claim Reliever Jumbo Diaz off Waivers

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Feb 25, 2017; Goodyear, AZ, USA; Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Jumbo Diaz (70) delivers a pitch in the bottom of the third inning against the Cleveland Indians during a spring training game at Goodyear Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Sam Greene/Cincinnati Enquirer via USA TODAY Sports
Feb 25, 2017; Goodyear, AZ, USA; Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Jumbo Diaz (70) delivers a pitch in the bottom of the third inning against the Cleveland Indians during a spring training game at Goodyear Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Sam Greene/Cincinnati Enquirer via USA TODAY Sports /
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In their efforts to bolster the bullpen, the Tampa Bay Rays claimed right-hander Jumbo Diaz off waivers from the Cincinnati Reds.

On Friday, the Tampa Bay Rays added another arm to their bullpen when they claimed right-hander Jumbo Diaz off waivers from the Reds. Diaz had been designated for assignment this past week by the Reds.

To accommodate him on the 40-man roster, pitcher Nathan Eovaldi was transferred to the 60-day DL and with no minor league options remaining, Diaz upon his return from the World Baseball Classic will either make the Rays Opening Day Roster or make a return trip to the waiver wire as he is out of minor league options.

Diaz had been with the Reds the past three seasons, posting a 3-3 record with a 3.65 ERA over 138 innings pitched having appeared in 142 games. Last season he was 1-1 (45 games) with a 3.14 ERA, with 37 strikeouts and 19 walks in 43 innings with the Reds, while also spending time at Triple-A Louisville posting a 1-1 record with a 0.75 ERA where he struck out 38 and walked just seven in 24 innings over 22 appearances.

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According to Cincinnati.com, despite spending parts of past three years with the Reds, Diaz was not guaranteed a spot on the Reds Opening Day roster.

However, Diaz’s chances of making the Opening Day roster had diminished throughout this spring with his poor outings as evident by his three spring appearances. His line comes in with a 9.00 ERA, having allowed eight runs (six earned) on eight hits, with no strikeouts in three innings with opposing batters feasting on him at a .412 clip.

“I know I’m fighting for a spot here, but so far my outings, I’m not doing so well,” Diaz said. “But I think I’m trying hard to get on track and get ready for the season.

Diaz left the Reds camp in Arizona this past week and headed to Miami, as he is on the first round roster for the Dominican Republic team at the World Baseball Classic.

Throughout his career, Diaz has pitched well in the minors but has yet to produce as well in the majors. Drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2001, Diaz has pitched for five different organizations (Dodgers, Texas, Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati) with the most success coming with the Reds.

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In his four minor league seasons with the Reds, Diaz is 10-8, with a 1.33 ERA in 172 innings pitched, which includes 175 strikeouts, 60 walks in 148 appearances. Overall, his minor league career with 14 different teams stands at 20-26 with a 2.53 ERA in 375 games (19 starts).

The move is somewhat perplexing on my part, unless there is underlying reasons such as a significant or lingering injury that one or more of the current relievers are dealing with, or others that could include a possible trade or waiving Kevin Gadea, acquired via the Rule 5 draft in order to return him to Seattle.

However, that does not seem to be the case. Despite the slower schedule for the pitchers, Cash is not that pleased with the pitching staff. Prior to the Rays game against the Pirates on Friday, Cash told reporters:

"“I think the entire pitching staff, we can probably step on the gas a little more and start seeing guys building up and getting closer to where they’re going to be on Opening Day. “I know it’s March 10, but we’ve also been here a month.”"

Bill Chastain of MLB.com wrote that the gist of Cash’s message was: That the pitchers need to start competing, rather than just working themselves into pitching shape.

Next: Matt Duffy The Forgotten Man

Maybe this was actually the underlying reason for the addition of Jumbo Diaz – nothing like a little competition to get the blood flowing and the flame lit to get the fire going.

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