The Rays are expected to pursue multiple bullpen upgrades on this year’s trade market, Juan Toribio of MLB.com reports in his latest inbox column. Toribio lists some speculative targets, including Shane Greene, Ken Giles and Kirby Yates. It’s also possible, Toribio notes, that Tampa Bay will look to add a right-handed bat to its bench mix.
Rays relievers entered play Wednesday ranked third in the Majors in ERA (3.60) and FIP (3.94), and they rank 11th in xFIP (4.36). They’re also in the bottom five of MLB in terms of K/9, though, and they’ve benefited from the game’s lowest HR/9 mark (0.98) and second-lowest homer-to-flyball ratio (11.5 percent).
The Rays have gotten strong results from lefty Jalen Beeks while working as a bulk reliever behind the Rays’ frequently utilized openers, which has somewhat skewed those league-wide rankings. Late-inning relievers Jose Alvarado, Diego Castillo and Emilio Pagan have all pitched well, but the Tampa Bay bullpen has been somewhat top-heavy toward the end of the game. They’ve been all the more thin with Alvarado away due to family reasons and Castillo on the IL due to a shoulder issue.
Rostering a deep bullpen is of particular importance for the Rays, given their nontraditional approach to constructing a pitching staff. At the moment, they’re only deploying three traditional starters in Charlie Morton, Yonny Chirinos and struggling reigning Cy Young winner Blake Snell. Tyler Glasnow would give them another option in that regard once healthy, but he recently suffered a setback in his recovery from a forearm injury and will be shut down for another three weeks. That atypical pitching formation leads the Rays to utilize multiple “bullpen” games per week, with Ryne Stanek serving as the most frequent opener and Beeks operating as the leading bulk reliever.
As for the potential addition of a right-handed bat, the Rays have Yandy Diaz, Christian Arroyo, Matt Duffy and Daniel Robertson all on the injured list, with Robertson set to miss up to six weeks following knee surgery and Duffy sidelined indefinitely. They recently turned to 25-year-old Mike Brosseau for his MLB debut as a righty bench bat, with backup catcher Travis d’Arnaud and light-hitting outfielder Guillermo Heredia rounding out an all-right-handed, three-man bench that can’t be reasonably expected to provide much offense.