The Rays have agreed to minor league contracts with right-handers Dylan Covey and John Curtiss, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter link). Both pitchers will be in Major League camp as non-roster invitees this spring. Tampa Bay also re-signed fleet-footed outfielder Johnny Davis, although he’ll report directly to minor league camp.
Covey, 28, recently elected free agency in lieu of an outright assignment from the White Sox. He’s appeared in each of the past three seasons with the ChiSox, showing promise at times but ultimately posting unpalatable results. In 250 1/3 big league innings, he’s pitched to a 6.54 ERA with 6.2 K/9, 4.1 BB/9, 1.62 HR/9 and a 50 percent ground-ball rate.
The Athletics drafted Covey in the third round back in 2013, and he was Chicago’s Rule 5 pick in 2016 three years later. Like many Rule 5 pick, Covey had a brutal rookie year, but he survived on the roster, allowing the Sox to keep him in following seasons. The righty was impressive early in 2018, logging a 3.45 ERA/3.54 FIP with a huge 60 percent ground-ball rate through his first eight starts. That success quickly unraveled, though, and Covey struggled through the majority of his remaining time on the South Side. The Rays will hope they can help him rediscover that early 2018 form, although Tampa Bay has enviable pitching depth as it is with Charlie Morton, Blake Snell, Tyler Glasnow, Ryan Yarbrough and Yonny Chirinos all in line to start games in 2020.
Curtiss, meanwhile, bounced from the Twins to the Angels to the Phillies on a series of waiver claims and minor league deals in 2019. The former sixth-rounder (Twins, 2014) was once a well-regarded bullpen prospect in Minnesota’s system but has yet to find success in the big leagues (13 runs in 17 1/3 innings). Curtiss was shelled in Triple-A in 2019 but was very good there in 2017-18, pitching to a combined 2.49 ERA with 94 strikeouts in 79 2/3 innings. Control has long been an issue for Curtiss, though, as even in that solid 2017-18 run in Triple-A, he issued 41 free passes (4.6 BB/9).
As for Davis, the Rays plucked him out of the Mexican League last August and rushed him to the big leagues as a September call-up/pinch-running specialist. He had a strong year in Mexico in 2019, slashing .300/.353/.392 and swiping 54 bases. That showing and his brief cameo in the Rays organization late in ’19 will earn him a look in the upper minors with the Rays in 2020, it seems.