The Rays announced Thursday that they’ve designated right-hander Hector Perez for assignment. His spot on the roster will go to fellow righty Andrew Kittredge, who has been reinstated from the 60-day injured list.
Perez, 27, was only selected to the big league roster yesterday — a move intended to give the Rays a fresh arm in the bullpen. With Kittredge’s return looming, a short stay on the roster for the out-of-options righty always seemed like a possibility. That Perez pitched in yesterday’s game and allowed four of the five batters he faced to reach base surely didn’t help his cause. Yesterday’s appearance marked Perez’s second career big league stint, though his other — a 2020 cup of coffee in Toronto — was similarly brief. The Jays gave him 1 2/3 innings back in 2020, during which he allowed a pair of runs.
All told, Perez has completed just two innings in the Major Leagues and allowed three runs on six hits and four walks with one strikeout in that time. He has a career 3.78 ERA and 26.7% strikeout rate in the minors, however, including a 4.08 ERA and 30% strikeout rate (albeit against a 13% walk rate) in 53 innings at the Triple-A level so far in 2023. Players who’ve been designated for assignment can no longer be traded now that the deadline has passed, so Perez will be placed on outright waivers or release waivers within the next five days. He’s been outrighted previously in his career, so he can refuse a minor league assignment and explore other opportunities if he goes unclaimed on outright waivers.
The 33-year-old Kittredge will be returning from a 14-month absence following last June’s Tommy John surgery. Prior to his injury, he’d emerged as one of Tampa Bay’s best relievers, pitching to a 2.17 ERA with a 24.2% strikeout rate, 4.9% walk rate, 51.9% ground-ball rate and 0.99 homers per nine over the life of 99 2/3 innings from 2020-22. Along the way, he picked up 14 saves and seven holds.
Kittredge’s return is a massive boost for the Rays’ bullpen, but it won’t do much to stop the bleeding in a rotation that has now lost Shane McClanahan, Drew Rasmussen and Jeffrey Springs to season-ending surgeries. Rasmussen underwent flexor surgery earlier this season, while both Springs and McClanahan required Tommy John procedures to repair ligament damage in their elbow. The still-recent revelation that McClanahan would require Tommy John surgery is a particularly brutal blow, given both his status as a legitimate No. 1 starter and the timing of the injury; he’ll likely miss the entire 2024 season as well (or at the very least the vast majority of it).
Kittredge will join Pete Fairbanks, Jason Adam and Colin Poche as a viable late-inning option for manager Kevin Cash. He’s also no stranger to working as an opener, if the Rays prefer to opt for some bullpen games in light of their injury woes. Kittredge has “started” 15 games in his career but never gone more than three innings. He’s frequently worked two innings to open a game for the Rays. Currently, Tampa Bay’s rotation consists of Tyler Glasnow, offseason signee Zach Eflin, deadline acquisition Aaron Civale and reliever-turned-starter Zack Littell.