The Tampa Bay Rays made a series of moves to alter their 40 man roster on Tuesday prior to the 8pm deadline in order to protect some of their prospects, including designating first baseman C.J. Cron for assignment.
The Rays were working all the way up to the 8pm deadline on November 21st to have their 40 man roster together so they are prepared for the impending Rule 5 Draft next month.
For anyone who doesn’t know, the Rule 5 Draft allows teams to draft players that have had five or more years of professional playing time, but have not been placed on any team’s 40 man roster by the 8pm deadline.
With a few notable players that were eligible to be drafted by other organisations, the Rays had to make some tough decisions and clear some roster room in order to protect they players they wanted.
Coming into the deadline day – Tuesday, November 21st, the Rays had already filled 39 of their 40 roster spots, but had a handful of prospects that they would likely want to keep.
By the end of the day, the Rays added five prospects to their 40 man, protecting them from Rule 5 eligibility:
LHP Kyle Bird
LHP Brock Burke
RHP Ian Gibaut
OF Joe McCarthy
All of these prospects were highly thought of in the Rays organisation, and may all contribute in the 2019 season.
However, to make room for these five players, four players had to be removed from the roster. First, there was right handed pitcher Jose Mujica, who the Rays have decided tp outright to the minor leagues. Meanwhile, Tampa has designated three players for assignment:
RHP Oliver Drake
LHP Holby Milner
1B C.J. Cron
The first two players were pretty easy to lose, as Drake had only been acquired from the Twins just two weeks ago, and Milner had barely pitched for the Rays after being acquired from the Phillies, and spent most of his time in AAA Durham.
Cron, however, is likely to cause ripples among Rays fans. Similarly to Corey Dickerson’s case a year ago, Cron performed well in 2018, hitting .253 with 30 home runs, and providing a lot of big hits for the Rays, especially early in the season, and designating him for assignment seems like a harsh decision for a player that hit so well.
However, Cron was likely to be sent away from the organization regardless, as it is obvious the Rays are putting their full faith in Jake Bauers to be their full time first baseman going forward, and it has been heavily reported that Tampa are looking for a ‘feared’ right handed bat to assume either first base or DH, the positions Cron occupies.
Players that have been DFA’d have seven days to either be released, traded or outrighted to minors. While Drake and Milner may not have any suitors and stick with the organisation, it is difficult to imagine that C.J. would not have a market given his power potential and strong showing in 2018.
Essentially, while it seems cold on the surface, what this move does is allow Tampa some breathing space with their 40 man roster while simultaneously allowing an extension on finding a trade for Cron. Nothing personal, just business.
It is worth noting that infielder Kean Wong, lefty Travis Ott, and catcher Brett Sullivan were not added to the 40 man, leaving them eligible to be drafted by other organisations in the Rule 5 Draft on December 12th, and are expected to be well sought after pickups.
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Expect to hear more news as the Rays will continue to reshape their roster going into 2019, including a C.J. Cron trade in the next week. Be sure to stay tuned to Rays Colored Glasses for updates.