The Tampa Bay Rays needed a roster spot. Luke Maile, who was essentially the Rays fifth catcher, became a victim of a numbers crunch as he was designated for assignment yesterday.
After Jesus Sucre won the Tampa Bay Rays backup catcher job, one had to imagine that either Curt Casali or Luke Maile would lose their roster spot. Sucre needed to be added to the 40 man roster, and one of those two were essentially the Rays fifth catcher.
Yesterday, the other shoe dropped for Maile. He was designated for assignment yesterday, opening up one of those needed roster spots. He could be let go, but the Rays intent is likely to keep Maile at the AAA level, just in case he is needed later in the season. Although, if an another team is interested in his services, the Rays may be able to get something in return.
It is certainly possible that such a scenario could happen. Maile is only 26 years old, and does have a bit of pop. Although his .227/.252/.361 batting line last season does not inspire much confidence, Maile has displayed a solid bat in the minors. In his five minor league seasons, Maile has produced an overall .257/.336/.367 batting line, showing some potential be a decent piece on offense.
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Where Maile has shined has been on defense. He was considered a solid pitch framer last season, and threw out runners at a league average rate. Maile is, in a lot of ways, the prototypical backup catcher, someone who will be able to steal a few strikes for their pitching staff while being solid defensively. Add in his occasional pop, and Maile is the type of backup catcher every team seemingly looks for.
The problem is, catchers like Maile are fairly common. Almost every team has a player like that on their roster, who earn their keep based on their glove and arm. While his minor league production does hint at a better offensive profile, teams can find a Luke Maile type of player. Even the Rays, who typically struggle to find any production from the catcher spot, consider Maile to be replaceable.
Chances are, the Tampa Bay Rays will be able to retain Luke Maile. However, as he has been designated for assignment, his future is rather nebulous at this point in time.