The Rays have made some roster moves today, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. They have selected right-hander Elvin Rodríguez to their roster, with righty Ryan Thompson optioned in a corresponding move. To open a spot on the 40-man roster, left-hander José López has been designated for assignment.
The Rays recently lost Shane McClanahan to the injured list and have been scrambling to get to the All-Star break, deploying bullpen games in each of the past two days. They used six different pitchers on Wednesday and then eight yesterday. With the staff fairly taxed and three games against a potent Atlanta offense to get through before the break, they’ve brought in a fresh arm to help out.
Rodríguez, 25, spent the past few years in the Tigers’ system. He split 2021 between Double-A and Triple-A, posting a 5.68 ERA but striking out 24.6% of hitters while walking 8.6%. The Tigers added him to their 40-man roster after that season and he was able to make his major league debut in 2022. Unfortunately, his first 29 2/3 major league innings resulted in a 10.62 ERA. He also had a 4.98 ERA in Triple-A last year over 99 1/3 innings.
The Tigers non-tendered him at season’s end and he landed with the Rays on a minor league deal. He’s tossed 47 1/3 innings in the minors this year over 11 starts with a 3.42 ERA, 27.2% strikeout rate and 9.7% walk rate. The Rays have Tyler Glasnow, Taj Bradley and Zach Eflin lined up to start the next three games but will likely call on Rodríguez if they need multiple innings at any point.
López, 24, had spent his entire career with the Rays until the Padres selected him in the Rule 5 draft last November. The Friars were undoubtedly intrigued by his 2022 season wherein he tossed 59 1/3 innings between High-A, Double-A and Triple-A with a 2.43 ERA. He struck out 37.7% of hitters while walking 15.1%. That obvious lack of control continued into the spring, with López walking five batters in six innings before being offered back to the Rays in late March.
He was able to make his major league debut with Tampa this year, allowing one earned run in a two-inning appearance. Otherwise, he’s been in Triple-A, posting a 7.89 ERA there while walking 13.2% of opponents and striking out just 22.2%.
The Rays will now have one week to trade López or pass him through waivers. His command is clearly an ongoing concern but left-handed relief tends to always be in demand. He’s shown an ability to rack up strikeouts in the past and still has a full slate of options. Any club willing to give him a 40-man roster spot could keep him as an optionable depth piece for the foreseeable future and hope he reins in his stuff.