The Rays have designated right-hander David Hess for assignment, placed outfielder Randy Arozarena on the paternity list and optioned righty Louis Head to Triple-A Durham, per a club announcement. That trio of moves clears a path for the previously reported promotion of top outfield prospect Josh Lowe and the reinstatement of first baseman Ji-Man Choi and righty Matt Wisler from the injured list.
It’s the third DFA of the season for Hess and his second with the Rays. The 28-year-old right-hander originally inked a minor league pact with Tampa Bay but was traded to the Marlins in early July and quickly immediately added to their MLB roster. The former Orioles righty had gotten out to a terrific start in Triple-A but was clobbered for seven runs in one inning at Coors Field in his second-to-last appearance with Miami, who designated him for assignment about a month after originally acquiring him.
Hess made his way back to the Rays on a new minor league deal, and he’s now been selected to the MLB roster and designated for assignment twice more. He didn’t get into a game the first time but did pitch two innings in his most recent call-up. Things didn’t go well, however, as he surrendered six runs in a pair of innings against the Red Sox. Because of the nature of that DFA carousel, Hess was pitching for just the fourth time in a span of nearly four weeks during his lone appearance in this most recent Rays stint.
On the whole, Hess has surrendered 22 runs in 20 big league innings this season. Most of the damage has come in that pair of ugly outings, but it’s still not a surprise to see a pitcher with that level of cumulative results bumped from the 40-man roster. He’ll now be placed on outright waivers or release waivers in the next couple of days. If he goes unclaimed, the Rays can assign him back to Triple-A Durham, where he’s pitched to a 3.28 ERA with a 27.2 percent strikeout rate and a 5.4 percent walk rate in 35 2/3 frames of relief work this year.
Looking to the rest of the Rays’ moves, Lowe looks to be a short-term replacement for Arozarena, who can miss up to three games. Brief or not, the promotion will give Rays fans a glimpse at the future, as Lowe is widely viewed as a long-term building block in the outfield.
Head, like Hess, has been riding the shuttle between the big leagues and Triple-A with dizzying frequency. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times observes that this marks the staggering tenth time that Head has been optioned to Triple-A this season. Despite being bandied about between Durham and St. Petersburg, he’s held his own against MLB lineups, pitching to a 2.93 ERA with a 26-to-9 K/BB ratio in 27 2/3 innings of relief. Head has similarly strong numbers in Triple-A, and while it’s surely frustrating to be unable to secure a long-term spot in the bullpen, he’s a 31-year-old who made his MLB debut this season, so even the brief and inconsistent days of Major League service time and pay are a welcome turn of events.
Choi, who’s hitting .250/.364/.435 in 236 plate appearances, missed a bit more than two weeks with a strained hamstring. He also missed time in June with a groin strain. Wisler missed a similar chunk of time with a finger injury on his pitching hand. He’s been excellent since the Rays acquired him from the Giants, pitching to a 1.98 ERA with a 32.7 percent strikeout rate and a 3.8 percent walk rate in 27 1/3 innings.