The Rays announced that they’ve released outfielder Jason Coats to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Colby Rasmus, whose one-year deal with the team is now official. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets that the decision stems from the fact that Coats tore his UCL later the same day that he was claimed off waivers from the White Sox. He’ll require Tommy John surgery to repair the issue and presumably miss the 2017 season.
The 27-year-old Coats made his Major League debut with the ChiSox in 2016, batting .200/.298/.340 in a tiny sample of 58 plate appearances. However, he also posted a monster year in Triple-A Charlotte, where he batted .330/.394/.519 with 10 homers, 22 doubles and a pair of triples in just 332 plate appearances. That breakout makes his injury quite untimely, as Coats could’ve conceivably gotten a look in the Majors as a reserve in 2016 even after the addition of Rasmus. Tampa Bay already traded Mikie Mahtook to the Tigers this month, while other outfield options such as Taylor Motter and Richie Shaffer were sent to Seattle earlier in the winter. The Rays have also acquired Mallex Smith in addition to Rasmus, but Coats, who has 350+ innings at all three outfield positions in the minors, certainly could’ve at the very least challenged for a role at some point in 2017.