The Rays have acquired right-hander Oliver Drake from the Blue Jays in exchange for cash considerations, as per an announcement from the Jays. In order to open a spot for Drake on the 40-man roster, Tampa Bay announced that fellow righty Jaime Schultz has been designated for assignment.
Toronto designated Drake for assignment last week to open a spot on the roster for newly acquired southpaw Clayton Richard. It’s the second time Drake has landed with the Rays this offseason; Tampa Bay claimed him from the Twins on Nov. 1, only to later lose him to the Jays via waivers.
Drake, 32 next week, is baseball’s most well-traveled player over the past calendar year. The right-hander pitched for a record-setting five teams in 2018, spending time with the Brewers, Indians, Blue Jays, Angels and Twins. Though he struggled with four of those clubs, Drake actually pitched quite well in Minnesota, giving the Twins 20 1/3 innings of 2.21 ERA ball with 22 strikeouts against seven walks over the life of 19 relief appearances.
Many were puzzled that Drake continually was claimed on waivers despite sub-par results for much of the 2018 campaign, but Drake’s blend of missed bats (13.2 percent swinging-strike rate, 9.6 K/9), solid control (3.2 BB/9) and ability to keep the ball on the ground at a roughly league-average rate (44.6 percent) continue to hold appeal around the league. He’s not a spin rate savant by any stretch of the means, but fielding-independent pitching metrics like FIP (3.24), xFIP (3.51) and SIERA (3.48) all paint a much better picture of Drake than his unsightly 5.29 ERA. His strong finish with Minnesota likely only further enhanced his appeal.
As for Schultz, the 27-year-old was once considered one of Tampa Bay’s more promising minor league arms. However, he struggled to a 5.64 ERA in 30 1/3 innings last year, and while he racked up 35 strikeouts in that time, he also issued 17 walks and hit three batters. He also underperformed in Triple-A last season and has never been able to consistently avoid issuing free passes in the upper minors. Schultz does have a nice track record of missing bats, though, and he averaged a solid 94.9 mph on his heater last year, so perhaps another club will be interest in taking a look.