The Rays placed infielder Taylor Walls on the 10-day injured list due to a left oblique strain. The placement is retroactive to July 21. Vidal Brujan was called up from Triple-A to take Walls’ place on the active roster.
One of the many multi-position players on Tampa Bay’s roster, Walls’ versatility and solid defense has been an asset, as he has toggled between second base, third base, and shortstop this season. The majority of Walls’ playing time has come against right-handed pitching, but the switch-hitter has had much better numbers against southpaws — an .854 OPS in 73 plate appearances against left-handers, as opposed to a .603 OPS in 205 PA against righties.
Any kind of production is welcome considering that Walls hit only .183/.281/.288 over 642 PA during the 2021-22 seasons, his first two MLB campaigns. Some big numbers in the first six weeks of the 2023 season made it seem like Walls was poised for a breakout, but a long cold streak has put his season-long slash line at .211/.315/.360 over 279 PA. That translates to a 96 wRC+, and if Walls can at least establish a floor for himself of near-average offense and multi-positional defensive value, he’ll certainly continue to find a place for himself in the majors. His offensive profile also consists of an excellent walk rate, and very strong baserunning ability — Walls has stolen 20 bases in 21 attempts this season.
Even on a Rays team that seemingly has good young infielders constantly coming up the minor league pipeline, Walls’ semi-emergence has earned him regular duty on a World Series contender. Unfortunately, this oblique strain will now put a halt to Walls’ playing time, and the severity of the injury has yet to be revealed. A Grade 1 strain would likely sideline Walls for a few weeks, while a higher-grade strain could potentially threaten his season altogether.
Brujan is also a switch-hitting utilityman, so he figures to step right into Walls’ role in the second base/third base mix. Jonathan Aranda is also at Triple-A, and the Rays could potentially call on any of Curtis Mead, Greg Jones, or Osleivis Basabe if they feel any of the infield prospects are ready for their MLB debuts. Depending on the severity of Walls’ injury and what options are available at the trade deadline, Tampa could possibly pursue some more infield depth prior to August 1. Given the Rays’ woeful 4-12 record in July, even a bigger-name position player addition might be required to spark a team whose big lead in the AL East has evaporated.