The Rays announced Friday that they’ve designated catcher Nick Ciuffo for assignment. His 40-man spot will go to top prospect Brendan McKay, whose previously reported promotion to the Majors is now official. Tampa Bay also reinstated lefty Jose Alvarado from the restricted list and recalled Casey Sadler from Triple-A Durham. Lefty Jalen Beeks and infielder Mike Brosseau were optioned to Durham in a pair of corresponding moves.
The 24-year-old Ciuffo was a first-round pick back in 2013 but has yet to live up to the potential that came along with that draft billing. His DFA will come with somewhat atypical circumstances, as Ciuffo is on the injured list in the minor leagues after undergoing thumb surgery that was expected to sideline him for eight to ten weeks. There’s still another four to six weeks to go on that projected recovery time. Because Ciuffo is on the IL, he can’t be outrighted, which means the Rays will likely release him and then hope to re-sign him to a new minor league contract. That’s a fairly common outcome in the rare instances that an injured minor league player is designated for assignment.
In 134 plate appearances with Durham this year, Ciuffo batted .228/.276/.350. He’s posted a .529 OPS in a tiny sample of 50 big league plate appearances and is a career .250/.292/.369 hitter in 370 trips to the plate at the Triple-A level.
Alvarado, also 24, was on the restricted list after stepping away from the club for family reasons. He’s arguably Tampa Bay’s best reliever, having posted a 2.85 ERA (2.50 FIP) with 10.8 K/9 against 4.2 BB/9 in 117 innings since making his MLB debut as a 21-year-old in 2017.
The 25-year-old Beeks has been excellent for the Rays in 2019, serving primarily as a followup pitcher to frequent opener Ryne Stanek. In 61 1/3 innings, Beeks has a 2.79 ERA (3.48 FIP) with 7.5 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9. Despite that strong performance, Beeks is a casualty of yesterday’s 18-inning marathon win over the Twins. Beeks pitched 3 1/3 innings yesterday and wouldn’t have been available for a couple of days. The Rays, in need of fresh arms, sent him down for some additional depth, but it’s likely that Beeks will be back once the 10-day minimum length of his optional assignment has been met.