The Rays have designated third baseman Matt Duffy for assignment and selected the contracts of infielders Vidal Brujan, Jake Cronenworth, Kevin Padlo and Lucius Fox as well as catcher Ronaldo Hernandez. Tampa Bay also traded right-hander Jose De Leon to the Reds in exchange for cash or a player to be named later earlier tonight.
Acquired in the 2016 trade that sent Matt Moore to the Giants, Duffy was expected to be a focal point of the Tampa Bay infield for several years. He’d batted .295/.334/.428 over the life of 149 games during the 2015 season, was considered a premium defender and came to the Rays with another four-plus seasons of team control.
But a series of lower-half injuries — Achilles, foot and hamstring — all limited Duffy considerably over the next three seasons, with the Achilles injury proving to require surgery. Duffy only played 199 games and totaled 809 plate appearances across parts of four seasons in the Rays organization. He’d been projected to receive a $2.9MM salary in arbitration (per MLB contributor Matt Swartz), and the Rays weren’t comfortable with that number, it seems.
Brujan is the most highly regarded prospect of those protected today, ranking as a consensus top 100 prospect and posting a combined .277/.346/.389 batting line between Class-A Advanced and Double-A as a 21-year-old. Each of Hernandez (No. 7), Cronenworth (No. 17) and Fox (No. 19) ranked inside the Rays’ top 30 at MLB.com. Fox, notably, came to the Rays in the same 2016 trade as Duffy. The 23-year-old Padlo was acquired along with Corey Dickerson in the trade that sent German Marquez to the Rockies, and he posted a robust .265/.389/.538 line between Double-A and Triple-A in 2019.