The Rays announced that they’ve placed catcher Mike Zunino on the 10-day injured list due to a left quad strain and selected the contract of fellow backstop Anthony Bemboom. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times first reported that the move was coming and suggests that Zunino will be out about three weeks (Twitter links). Tampa Bay also activated Austin Meadows from the IL, as expected.
Tampa Bay has now lost its top two catchers in the span of 48 hours. Michael Perez was placed on the 10-day injured list Wednesday morning due to oblique tightness and replaced on the active roster by Nick Ciuffo, who’ll now serve as the Rays’ primary catcher for the time being. Ciuffo, a 2013 first-round pick, has yet to establish himself as much of an offensive option in Triple-A, where he’s hit .236/.272/.347 in 316 career plate appearances. He does control the running game quite well — 42 percent caught-stealing rate in his minor league career — and graded out as an above-average pitch framer in 2018, per Baseball Prospectus.
Bemboom, 29, has only played in eight games this season himself thanks to injuries of his own. An eight-year minor league veteran, he’s in his first season with the Rays organization having previously spent six years in the Halos’ minor leagues ranks as well as the 2018 season in the Rockies’ system. Bemboom is a career .249/.344/.382 hitter in Triple-A and carries a 31 percent caught-stealing rate since being drafted in the 22nd round back in 2012. He posted above-average marks in pitch framing in each of the past two seasons, as well.
Certainly, it’s not an ideal pairing of catchers for a first-place club. As noted Wednesday at the time of the injury, though, there’s not much in the way of readily available veteran help. Perhaps they’ll explore the market for a short-term backup option, but it’s unlikely that the trade market at this stage of the season would yield anyone who can be reasonably expected to provide more offense than Ciuffo.