The Mariners announced Friday that they have acquired right-hander Yacksel Rios from the Rays in exchange for cash. He’s not currently on the 40-man roster, having inked a minor league pact with Tampa Bay over the winter.
Of course, that lack of a 40-man roster spot may change quickly. The Mariners have a pair of open spots on their roster, and Rios has been lights-out in Triple-A Durham thus far in 2021. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets that Rios had a June 1 opt-out date in his contract, so this trade quite likely boils down to a matter of the Rays not feeling there’s a spot for him in their current bullpen and helping him land in a situation with a quick and straightforward path to the big leagues.
Rios, who’ll turn 28 later this month, doesn’t have much of a track record in the Majors but has ripped through Triple-A lineups so far in 2021. He’s tossed 13 2/3 innings with Tampa Bay’s top affiliate and yielded just one run on eight hits and two walks with 17 strikeouts, complementing those numbers with a terrific 56.7 percent grounder rate.
Rios has just a 6.36 ERA in 69 1/3 big league innings, so those eye-popping numbers in Triple-A should be taken with a grain of salt. But the hard-throwing righty averages just shy of 96 mph on his heater and has generated a solid 11.9 percent swinging-strike rate during his 66 big league appearances, so it’s certainly possible he has more in the tank. The Mariners entered the season with a fluid bullpen mix in the first place and are currently without Kendall Graveman, Erik Swanson, Casey Sadler, Andres Munoz and Drew Steckenrider, so there should be opportunity for Rios in the near future.