The Rays announced Tuesday that they’ve acquired right-hander Sean Poppen from the Pirates in exchange for cash. Pittsburgh had recently designated Poppen for assignment. Tampa Bay’s 40-man roster is now full.
Poppen has been optioned to Triple-A Durham for the time being but could see some action in the big leagues with his new club before long, given the regularity with which the Rays have shuffle up their pitching mix in recent seasons.
The 27-year-old Poppen has seen time in the Majors in each of the past three seasons (2019-20 with Minnesota, 2021 with Pittsburgh) but hasn’t found much in the way of success. He’s tallied 20 2/3 innings in the bigs but yielded 18 runs (15 earned) on 30 hits and 11 walks with 23 strikeouts. Poppen’s sinker averages 94.4 mph and has resulted in a solid 46.8 percent ground-ball in his limited big league action. He pairs the pitch with a slider and a seldom-used changeup, but none of the three offerings has been particularly effective against MLB opponents.
Poppen has had more success in the minors, where he sports a 3.39 ERA and a strikeout per inning in parts of five professional seasons — mostly as a starting pitcher. All 13 of his MLB appearances to date have come out of the bullpen, but it’s possible the Rays could look to stretch him back out, either as a multi-inning reliever or as a true depth option for the rotation. The Harvard product is a former 19th-round pick who has never been considered to be one of his organization’s top products, but he carries a respectable 3.88 ERA in 65 Triple-A innings.