The Rays have designated right-handed reliever Cole Sulser for assignment. His 40-man roster spot was needed for the activation of Yandy Díaz, which has become official. Sulser, 29, made his MLB debut September 6 and has given Tampa 7.1 scoreless relief innings since getting the call.
Originally a 25th-round draftee by Cleveland, Sulser put up such elite minor-league numbers to catch the attention of Tampa’s front office, who acquired him as a lesser-known piece in the three-team offseason trade that, ironically enough, also brought in Díaz. Sulser did more than warrant the Rays’ faith, tossing 66 sparkling innings for Triple-A Durham, continuing his track record of minor-league success. Add in Sulser’s strong early returns in the big leagues, and it’s clear he’s a victim of the Rays’ crowded roster rather than underperformance.
In his brief MLB time, Sulser’s shown a 93.4 MPH fastball, per Statcast, backed up by a slider and sparingly-used changeup. On the surface, it’s somewhat pedestrian stuff for an MLB reliever, perhaps explaining how Sulser has waited so long to get to the game’s highest level. That said, he has continued to get outs whenever he’s been asked, and his 32.6% strikeout rate in Triple-A is hardly that of a pitch-to-contact arm.
As with Kean Wong last week, it seems the Rays are somewhat victims of their own roster depth. Like Sulser, Wong wasn’t a top prospect but came with long-term control and a track record of high minors performance, and the Angels claimed him when the Rays cut him loose to activate Brandon Lowe. It would hardly be surprising to see another team do the same with Sulser.