The Rays announced that they have reinstated outfielder Manuel Margot from the 60-day injured list. To make room on the active roster, fellow outfielder Roman Quinn was placed on the 10-day IL due to a left knee contusion. To open a spot on the 40-man roster, right-hander Ralph Garza Jr. was designated for assignment.
The return of Margot, 27, is certainly welcome news for the Rays on a few fronts. For one thing, Margot seemed to be in the midst of a breakout season before being beset by injuries. For many years, Margot has been a below-average hitter, but still a useful contributor by way of his speed and defense. Coming into this year, he had a career batting line of .251/.306/.388, but burst forth this year to a line of .302/.365/.423. That huge improvement was in a small sample of just 51 games, but Margot was denied the opportunity to stretch it out over a longer sample when he strained the patellar tendon in his right knee.
That injury occurred in late June, with Margot now returning after two months. In that span, the club’s outfield took damage elsewhere, with Kevin Kiermaier undergoing season-ending hip surgery. Harold Ramirez also missed close to a month with a broken thumb. Though he has since been reinstated, he has been acting as the designated hitter in his return to action. Due to the depleted outfield depth, the club traded for Quinn, David Peralta and Jose Siri just before the deadline to improve the situation. With Quinn now heading to the IL, Margot will step into an outfield mix with Siri, Peralta and Randy Arozarena. If Margot can pick up where he left off earlier in the year, he should help the Rays over the final weeks of the season. They are currently in possession of the final Wild Card spot in the American League, but just half a game ahead of the Twins and with three other teams within five games.
As for Garza, 28, he was drafted by the Astros and made his MLB debut with them last year. Since then, he’s been bounced around rosters quite a bit, first being claimed off waivers by the Twins in August of last year. He then landed with the Red Sox in March but quickly went to the Rays in April, both on waiver claims. He’s been optioned and recalled by the Rays all season long, throwing 35 innings at the big league level and 25 1/3 in Triple-A. He’s fared well at both levels, putting up a 2.84 ERA with Durham and a 3.34 ERA in the majors. However, his 11.1% strikeout rate at the major league level is less than half the league average, meaning those results might not be terribly sustainable. xERA, FIP, xFIP and SIERA all place him above 5.00 for the year. Garza has much better strikeout numbers in the minors, though, meaning he could find another gear if he can bring some of those Ks up to the big leagues.
Garza technically still has options remaining, though he’s already been optioned seven times this season. As part of the new collective bargaining agreement that went into effect this year, players can’t be optioned more than five times per season, after being unlimited under previous agreements. In the post-lockout rush to return to action, rosters were temporarily increased and it was agreed that options prior to May 2 wouldn’t count towards this limit. This was to allow teams greater flexibility in rotating arms in and out, in order to avoid overly taxing players after the short ramp-up. Two of Garza’s option were in April but the other five were after that May 2 cutoff date. He will still be optionable for another season beyond this one, however.