The Rays announced that right-hander Ryan Thompson has cleared release waivers and has been unconditionally released. He’s now a free agent and can sign with any club.
Thompson, 31, is enduring a frustrating season but has been much better in previous years. From 2020 to 2022, he made 108 appearances for the Rays, allowing 3.50 earned runs per nine innings over those. His 23.1% strikeout rate was roughly average, but his 6.5% walk rate and 52.5% ground ball rate were both strong.
This year, however, has been a bumpy ride. He landed on the injured list in mid-April due to a right lat strain and went on to struggle a bit after he returned, sporting a 6.60 ERA on May 21. The Rays then optioned him to Triple-A and he has been on and off the active roster since then, getting recalled and then optioned three more times since. He has a 3.26 ERA in 19 1/3 Triple-A innings this year, with a concerning walk rate of 13.9% but a huge 30.4% strikeout rate in that small sample.
He had been on the minor league injured list since early August due to a minor elbow issue but recently had a clean MRI, per MLBTR’s Steve Adams. He was still on the IL when he was designated for assignment yesterday, meaning the club had little choice but to release him. Injured players can’t be put on outright waivers and the trade deadline went by a couple of weeks ago, leaving a release inevitable.
He’ll now head to the open market in search of his next opportunity. Despite the challenging year, he figures to get interest based on his previous results. He came into this year with exactly three years of service time and a full slate of options. Since he’s spent a lot of time on optional assignment this year, he won’t reach four years of service and can be retained for three years beyond this one via arbitration. He’ll burn one of his options but will still be optionable for two future seasons.