The Rays have signed right-handed reliever David Carpenter to a minor league deal, the club told reporters, including Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter link). Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune tweets that Carpenter, who split last season between the Yankees and Nationals, will be in big league camp.
Carpenter, 30, was a huge part of the Braves’ bullpen in 2013 and 2014, pitching to a combined 2.63 ERA with 10.0 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 and a 37.9 percent ground-ball rate in 126 2/3 innings of work. That impressive performance was enough to pique the Yankees’ interest, prompting the club to part with left-hander Manny Banuelos to acquire Carpenter and left-hander Chasen Shreve on a New Year’s Day swap in 2015. Carpenter is no stranger to trades, having been sent from the Cardinals to the Astros in exchange for Pedro Feliz before joining the Blue Jays in the 10-player J.A. Happ/Francisco Cordero trade in July 2012. Toronto traded him to the Red Sox along with manager John Farrell in exchange for Mike Aviles a few months later, and he eventually made his way to the Braves via waiver claim, where he finally broke out as a quality reliever.
Inflammation in his right shoulder cost Carpenter a huge chunk of the 2015 season, however, limiting him to 24 2/3 innings and perhaps contributing to a lackluster 4.01 ERA when he was healthy enough to take the mound. Carpenter’s K/9 rate dipped to 5.5, though he didn’t see a marked decline in his fastball velocity (still averaging 95 mph) or his swinging-strike rate. The Rays will hope to land the 2013-14 version of Carpenter, though it’s worth noting that he’s already been released by the Braves this spring (albeit after throwing just one scoreless inning). If Carpenter is able to re-establish himself with the Rays, the club will be able to control him through at least the 2017 season, as he’s accrued only four years, 16 days of Major League service time and would thus be arbitration eligible following the season.