Meet The Tampa Bay Rays' Newest Bullpen Additions
By Austin Hart
The Tampa Bay Rays made a couple of smaller moves on Monday, August 1st in hopes of adding some depth to an injury-plagued bullpen. Prior to the Rays being involved in a 3-team trade that netted them outfielder Jose Siri from the Houston Astros, Tampa Bay acquired LHP Garrett Cleavinger from the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for outfielder German Tapia, per Marc Topkin.
Cleavinger hasn't see much of the Big Leagues so far this year, but the AAA numbers are not ones to be afraid of. He's been able to post a 2.79 ERA in 22 games along with a .192 opponent batting average. The one area that may draw some concern are the walks, as Cleavinger's given up 17 free passes in just the 29 innings he's pitched. He'll be joining the Durham Bulls in AAA for the time being.
18-year-old German Tapia has been playing rookie ball in the Dominican Summer League for the Rays, where he hit an impressive .329 in just 26 games this season before being traded.
Later that same day, the Rays acquired another potential bullpen arm. This time, RHP Jeremy Walker was sent over from the San Francisco Giants in exchange for INF/C Ford Proctor, reported by Susan Slusser & Chandler Rome.
Walker has spent his season in AAA as well, recovering from shoulder injuries that derailed him throughout 2020-2021. His stats aren't jumping off the page, with a fairly high 6.99 ERA in 29 games and 42 strikeouts in those games.
I think the most unexpected part of it all to me was seeing utility man Ford Proctor being dealt away. The Rays have been known for coveting players that are versatile at multiple positions, but according to Alex Pavlovic over at NBC Sports, that may have been the exact reason the Giants pursued him. A third-round pick in 2018 by the Rays, it seems to have been a bit of a down year for Proctor, only slashing .213/.329/.306 in the 79 games played in Durham.
I will say, I hope these trades don't come as a surprise to Rays fans, however, because the track record behind the Rays trading for "unproven" arms is pretty great. Command is the weak point for these two at the moment, but I believe both Cleavinger and Walker can still make an impact for the Rays heading down the stretch. With as many arms still on the shelf as the Rays have, they may just turn into the most important ones we have.