3:55pm: Thompson had been on the minor league injured list with a minor elbow issue, tweets MLBTR’s Steve Adams, but was given a clean bill of health after a recent MRI was reviewed by team doctors and a third-party doctor. He threw a bullpen session this morning.
12:50pm: After placing right-handed reliever Kevin Kelly on the 15-day injured list with an ankle sprain, the Rays have selected Hector Perez from Triple-A Durham to take his place in the bullpen, as first reported by Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. In a corresponding move, the team has designated Ryan Thompson for assignment to make room for Perez on the 40-man roster.
Kelly was drafted by the Guardians in 2019, and the Rockies picked him up in the Rule 5 draft this past December. Colorado flipped him to Tampa Bay the same day. He has performed well for the Rays this season, pitching to a 3.48 ERA and 3.89 SIERA in 48 games out of the bullpen, although he has shown signs of tiring since the All-Star break. The rookie is already nearing his career-high in innings pitched. It is unclear how severe Kelly’s ankle injury is, but he will not be eligible to return until August 31.
Perez made his MLB debut for the Blue Jays in 2020, pitching in a single game. He has not pitched in a major league game since; he had his contract selected by the Rays earlier this season but was DFA’d without appearing in a game. He came to Tampa Bay this winter in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft. In 53 innings at Triple-A, he has a 4.08 ERA. His 30% strikeout rate is impressive, but his 13% walk rate is a cause for concern.
Thompson also came to the Rays organization in the minor league portion of a Rule 5 draft, back in 2018. He was a solid bullpen piece from 2020-22, appearing in 108 games with a 3.50 ERA and 3.42 SIERA. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been nearly as effective in 2023. He has bounced back and forth between the Rays and Durham Bulls, and while his 3.26 ERA and 30.4% strikeout rate in Triple-A are impressive, his 6.11 ERA in 17 2/3 major league innings is not.
Thompson has been on the minor league injured list since August 6, so he cannot be placed on outright waivers. Since the trade deadline has passed, the Rays will have to put him on release waivers in the coming days. He’s being paid a $1MM salary in 2023 and still has about $247K of that sum left on his deal. A new team would take on that money upon claiming him but would also gain an additional three years of club control over the right-hander.