The Rays have placed right-hander Zach Eflin on the 15-day injured list due to back tightness, per broadcaster Neil Solondz. Pitching prospect Taj Bradley has been recalled to take his place and will make his major league debut on Wednesday. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times previously reported that these moves were imminent. Eflin’s IL placement is backdated to April 8, per Topkin.
Bradley, 22, was selected by the club in the fifth round of the 2018 draft. Since that time, he has continued to impress on the farm, moving up the minor league ladder and prospect lists. He pitched in Rookie Ball in 2018 and 2019, but then saw the minor leagues canceled by the pandemic in 2020. He split the following season between Class-A and Class-A Advanced, throwing 103 1/3 innings with a 1.83 ERA, 31% strikeout rate and 7.8% walk rate. Last year, he went through Double-A and Triple-A, tossing 133 1/3 frames with a 2.57 ERA, striking out 26.5% of batters faced while walking just 6.2%.
Bradley is currently considered the #42 prospect in the game by Baseball America, #18 by MLB Pipeline, #60 by ESPN, #52 by Keith Law of The Athletic and #37 by FanGraphs. He was eligible for the Rule 5 draft in December but the Rays made the easy decision to add him to their 40-man roster to prevent him from being selected. That means he already has a roster spot but he’ll be making his MLB debut tomorrow.
The Rays are off to an incredible 10-0 start here this season, with their pitching playing a large role in that. They’ve only allowed 18 runs in those 10 games, easily the fewest in baseball with the Brewers next on the list at 26. Tampa’s schedule has been on the weaker side thus far, with their first nine games coming against the Tigers, Nationals and A’s, three of the worst teams last year. Nonetheless, they’ve gotten great results from their rotation, even with Shane Baz recovering from Tommy John surgery and Tyler Glasnow on the IL with an oblique strain. Shane McClanahan, Jeffrey Springs, Drew Rasmussen and Eflin have all been great so far this season. Josh Fleming got roughed up in his first start but tossed four scoreless innings behind an opener in his second appearance.
Bradley will now check into that group for Eflin, at least for the time being. Solondz relays that manager Kevin Cash and Eflin both expect the latter to have a minimal stay on the IL, which would mean he’d only miss a couple of starts. The righty hasn’t exactly been a paragon of health in his career, as recurring knee issues have limited his workload over the years. He’s only once thrown 130 innings in a season, which was the 163 1/3 frames he tossed in 2019. He tells Topkin that he’s dealt with this back issue in the past and isn’t too concerned.
If those expectations come to pass and Eflin returns in a couple weeks, then it’s possible Bradley gets sent back down to Triple-A. That will likely depend on his performance, as well as that of Fleming and the health of the entire crew. There’s also the return of Glasnow on the horizon, which seems to potentially be slated for mid-May.
If it ends up coming to pass that Bradley sticks with the big league club for the rest of the season, he will be able to earn a full year of service time, just barely. A major league season is 187 days long but a player needs only to spend 172 of those in the majors, or on the injured list, in order to earn a full “year” of service time. Bradley has missed 12 days of the season thus far, giving him just enough time to creep over the one-year line, though getting optioned later in the year will obviously impact that trajectory.
In the event he does get that full year, he will be eligible for the prospect promotion incentive. As part of the most recent collective bargaining agreement, if a player has less than 60 days of service time and is on two out of the three top 100 prospects lists from Baseball America, ESPN and MLB Pipeline then earns a full year of service as a rookie, they become PPI eligible. If they then win Rookie of the Year or finish in the top three in MVP or Cy Young voting before reaching their arbitration years, they can net their club an extra draft pick. This already happened once when Julio Rodríguez won American League Rookie of the Year last year, getting the Mariners an extra draft pick after the first round. Bradley is on all three of those prospect lists and is therefore in the mix for earning PPI eligibility this year.
Image courtesy of USA Today Sports.
I liked eflin in Philly, but he could never stay healthy. I think he even had injury issues in the minors
Even with Bradley pitching tomorrow, I don’t see Boston winning any of the remaining 3 games against the Rays unless Whitlock dominates tonight.
You could be right but every game is a new day. I could see us winning one of the last two but it could go the other way too.
That took long…….money well spent
Depends how long he’s out
Then order bigger Depends! How obscene!
Sorry to hear about Eflin, but I don’t think any Phillies fans will be surprised. He has a tough time staying on the field. What was surprising was that the Rays gave him that deal.
$13 M a year for Eflin vs the $43 M a year for Verlander when they both have injury concerns? To me, it’s a no-brainer
Did you just mention Eflin and Verlander in the same sentence?
Bradley will be babied like crazy. The Rays are super cautious with their young pitching, and it hasn’t really seemed to make a difference in injury prevention. At this point, I think you let these pitchers pitch knowing that Tommy John surgery is inevitable. How many top pitchers in todays game that have been in the league for 4-5 years haven’t had TJS? Scherzer, Nola, Wheeler (not sure), Cole and I’m sure there are others.
I think overuse is definitely a contributing factor to the fear of the ulnar collateral ligament, but it’s also an unnatural motion that requires a lot of torque from the elbow – especially with everyone throwing 95mph+. Let these guys pitch while they are young and resilient. The elbow will blow out, let them get the surgery and start the process all over again.
Wheeler missed almost 2 years with TJS
Eflin is just one of those guys. Very good stuff, but the injury bug likes the taste of him.
Glad he got his money., more than the Phillies were going to offer….
As a Phils fan he’s good for his 25 starts and gives the staff a solid person w/ a strong personality (in a good way)….
If he’s healthy during the playoffs….I think that’s their biggest concern. They needed a guy that has the stuff and moxie to be a playoff option: Elfin is still certainly that, imo
LOL. Eflin is the Rays #5 starter when the playoffs roll around. He’ll be in the Pen for the playoffs. That’s not a knock on Eflin either, just recognizing that the other 4 starters could all have Cy Young Candidate years. Ras and Springs are 2 of baseball’s top 5 pitchers to date, which makes McClanny the Rays’ 3rd best pitcher of the healthy guys right now, which is insane. Glasnow returns in 3-4 weeks.
Hey, I don’t have any problem with your fierce love for Ras, Mac Daddy and Springs and you could absolutely be right. And I know Eflin has lost all shine as the guy coming off durability questions….already injured again.
BUT, I gotta say, don’t sleep on Zach, man. He’s looked good; and when he his 100% he can duel with any pitcher in baseball and give his team a chance to win. Not even that big of a fan of his, really. Just don’t forget about him. This team is extremely choosy with who they pay, and they made a pretty decent commitment to him.
Dark horse; if Bradley ends up being TOO GOOD to send down; at this point, how do you not put Eflin in the pen until further notice/injury?
Even if Bradley is great, he replaces Fleming in the rotation and the Rays don’t need to make a decision until Glasnow is back.
All fair points. I’m not sleeping on Eflin though. I think he’s going to have a great year with the Rays, if for no other reason than the Rays chose to make him their biggest free agent signing ever. As you point out, the Rays don’t spend money frivolously, so if they thought that much of Eflin, there’s a pretty good chance they saw something in him that will allow him to pitch at a higher level. My only point was that Eflin wasn’t signed by the Rays to solidify the post-season rotation. The Rays have a stacked rotation this year, and he might not even make the post-season rotation.
Bradley looked good last night. If he looks as good next week, I think the Rays are going to have a hard decision to make with whether to keep him up. They could send Fleming down to buy some time, but once Glas returns in mid-May, I think the decision is pretty easy. Bradley isn’t pushing Eflin (or anyone else) to the Pen. Baseball is a long season. Bradley will be back, sooner or later.
Exactly. Should have looked down before posting my response.
Looking forward to watching Bradleys first start! I’ve seen him in person during the spring; filthy lookin kid
Good for Taj.. Always cool to see a debut.
Kruk's Left Nut
At least it isn’t Efflin’s knees. Wishing him a quick recovery.
Eflin may well never put on a Ray’s jersey again.
Why post something like this? Eflin signed a 3 year deal and is suffering from minor back tightness. Rays expect him back as soon as the 15 days are up. There’s no indication this injury is a major deal.
Because I watched this unfold repeatedly in Philly. That’s why.
Hopefully you may well never post on mlbtraderumors again
Get well Zack!
Welcome to the show Taj!
Rays have gotten off to a decent start this year.
It’s been meh. TB is only tied, not in the lead smh, for the most homeruns through the first 11 games in MLB history.
2023 Rays 29
2000 Cards 29
Definitely room for improvement
The Rays did it without the benefit of steroids though.
Touché. That 2000 Cards roster probably had a mobile Pharmacy van that traveled with the team.
Rays are insanely good. I predicted them to win this division.
TB’s opponents so far (DET, WAS, OAK, BOS) a combined 13-31.
Still, they are winning games. Any way you look at it its a small sample size but their pitching has been the best and they’re scoring a ton of runs. They’re winning most games by a lot too.
12 of those losses came against the Rays though. Those teams are a much more respectable 13-19 if you take away their Rays’ series. 🙂
They’ll be 11-1 had to happen at some point .
162-0 or bust!!!
This aged well. Want to double down with Springs facing Kluber today?
Eflin injuries make me sad, but they’re frequent.