It’s the first time since 2019 that Beeks has been optioned to the minors. He entered the season with four years, 70 days of Major League service time and has accrued another 76 days so far in 2023. That accumulation is notable, as Beeks is now just 26 days shy of five years, at which point he’d need to give his consent to be optioned to the minors. The optional assignment isn’t likely to impact his free-agent timeline, as it’s hard to imagine Beeks won’t be back up for the remaining 26 days he needs to get to that five-year milestone.
Beeks, 30 next month, has been a key arm for the Rays over the past several seasons but struggled so far in 2023. The lefty missed the 2021 season following Tommy John surgery, but in 2020-22 he combined for 80 1/3 innings of 2.91 ERA ball with a 29% strikeout rate and a 7.9% walk rate. This year, Beeks is sitting on a grisly 5.82 ERA with a diminished 23.5% strikeout rate and an elevated 11.8% walk rate.
The Rays’ bullpen ranks 16th in the Majors with a collective 4.12 ERA, but the depth has taken a hit — particularly in terms of left-handed arms. With Beeks optioned out and both Josh Fleming and Garrett Cleavinger on the injured list, Tampa Bay is leaning on Colin Poche and recent veteran signing Jake Diekman. The 36-year-old Diekman has already performed better with the Rays than with the White Sox, who released him earlier in the season; in 10 1/3 innings he he’s allowed four runs on four hits and four walks with 10 strikeouts. Diekman has walked “just” 10.5% of his hitters as a Ray, compared to the 22.5% he walked in a similar sample with the South Siders.