The Rays have signed right-hander Aaron Slegers to a minor league contract that runs through the 2022 season. The deal contains an invitation for Slegers to attend the team’s big league Spring Training camp.
The signing reunites Slegers and the Rays after the righty pitched for Tampa Bay during the 2019-20 seasons. The Rays dealt Slegers to the Angels last February, and he struggled to a 6.97 ERA over 31 innings out of the Los Angeles bullpen. The Halos outrighted Slegers off their 40-man roster earlier this week but he elected to become a free agent rather than remain in the Angels organization.
Slegers has a 5.46 ERA over 89 career MLB innings with the Twins, Rays, and Angels, but he achieved success over his two years in Tampa, with a 3.41 ERA over 29 frames (26 of those coming during the 2020 season). Slegers’ resume includes one start and one appearance as a bulk pitcher, though he mostly worked as a multi-inning reliever over his previous stint with the Rays.
For his career, Slegers has only a 15.3% strikeout rate, as he has relied on a 51% grounder rate to deliver outs. Home runs have been a consistent problem for Slegers apart from his 2020 season — he only allowed one homer in 26 innings last year, and 13 homers in the other 63 frames of his big league career. The long ball was a particular issue for Slegers with the Angels, with six homers allowed in his 31 innings in an Anaheim uniform.
The two-year contract indicates that the Rays see enough in Slegers to give him a bit of added security heading into the offseason, not that there is exactly much time remaining in the 2021 campaign. While Slegers hasn’t pitched well this year, he can’t be ruled out as a candidate for any sort of usage for the rest of this year or even into the postseason, given how flexible the Rays are with their arms. Slegers saw action in three of Tampa Bay’s playoff games last October, with a 1.80 ERA over five total innings in the ALDS and ALCS.