The Rays announced that they have signed outfielder Roman Quinn to a major league contract. Outfielder Harold Ramirez, who broke his thumb prior to the All-Star break, has been placed on the 10-day injured list to open a spot on the active roster. To create room for Quinn on the 40-man roster, right-hander Cristofer Ogando was designated for assignment. Additionally, righty Cooper Criswell, who was designated for assignment two days ago, has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Durham.
Quinn, 29, has spent the bulk of his career with the Phillies, having once been a very promising prospect for them. He cracked Baseball America’s list of top 100 prospects back in 2013. However, he’s been held back by injuries since then. He’s appeared in six different MLB campaigns but has appeared in only 201 total games, never topping 50 in any individual season. Whether it’s due to injuries or not, Quinn’s never really gotten into a groove at the plate, at least at the major league level. Across his time in the bigs, he’s hit .223/.300/.343, production that’s 26% below league average, according to wRC+. He has been valuable elsewhere, however, racking up 43 steals and providing quality defensive work.
This year, Quinn signed a minors deal with the Marlins but was let go and went back to the Phillies. He was put into 23 games but got just 40 plate appearances before being designated for assignment. He then signed a minors deal with the Royals and played well in Triple-A. It was a small sample of seven games with the Omaha Storm Chasers, but Quinn hit .250/.406/.500 for a wRC+ of 142. He was recently released and now has a new opportunity with the Rays, who will coincidentally be starting a series in Kansas City tomorrow night.
The Rays have seen their outfield depth tested this year, particularly in center. Manuel Margot has been out since mid-May with a “significant patellar tendon strain.” Though he could be an option later in the year, he’s still expected to be sidelined for some time. Kevin Kiermaier is also on the injured list, with a hip injury that has the potential to be season-ending. With those players both out of action, the Rays have been using Brett Phillips and rookie Josh Lowe in center. Phillips has always been a glove-first player but isn’t even living up to his own standards with the bat this year. His .147/.219/.259 slash line adds up to a 42 wRC+, barely half of his career rate of 74 wRC+. Lowe is expected to provide more offense at some point but hasn’t hit the ground running in his first taste of the majors. His slash line of .199/.258/.338 adds up to a 72 wRC+.
Quinn hasn’t been a lightning rod with the bat himself, but he is a switch-hitter. With Phillips and Lowe both hitting from the left side, he at least provides the Rays with the opportunity to try out a platoon in center. Even if he doesn’t suddenly break out at the plate, he should at least provide some competent defense and a burst of speed.
As for Ogando, 28, he was just selected to the club’s roster at the start of July, only making a single appearance of two innings before getting optioned back to the minors. In 36 2/3 innings for the Bulls this year, he has a 3.68 ERA, 24.5% strikeout rate, 8.2% walk rate and 35.5% walk rate. The Rays will have one week to trade him, pass him through waivers or release him.
Criswell, 25, was just claimed off waivers from the Angels last week. The righty made a very brief MLB debut last year, logging 1 1/3 innings for the Angels. The rest of the year was spent in Triple-A, where he threw 47 innings with a 6.51 ERA, 20.4% strikeout rate, 5.7% walk rate and 41.8% ground ball rate. He landed on the 60-day IL at the start of this year and recently began a rehab assignment, throwing 18 innings in the minors before the Rays nabbed him on waivers. He’ll stick in the organization without occupying a roster spot.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter links 1, 2 and 3) and team broadcaster Neil Solondz (Twitter links) relayed the details of these transactions prior to the official announcement from the team.