The Rays announced a number of roster moves in advance of tonight’s deadline to set the 40-man roster before the Rule 5 draft. Tampa Bay made a trio of trades and, in perhaps their most notable transaction, designated left-hander Ryan Yarbrough for assignment. The Rays also designated reliever Javy Guerra and outfielder Bligh Madris for assignment. Joining the 40-man roster are infielders Curtis Mead, Osleivis Basabe and Greg Jones and pitchers Taj Bradley and Colby White, who’d all have been eligible for the Rule 5 draft.
The move officially brings to an end Yarbrough’s four-plus year run in Tampa Bay. The southpaw debuted in 2018 and spent his first three seasons as a productive innings-eater on the staff. While he wasn’t a traditional starting pitcher, Yarbrough frequently soaked up innings as a bulk pitcher behind an opener. Through the end of the 2020 campaign, he carried a 3.94 ERA in 344 2/3 career innings.
Things have gone off the rails for Yarbrough over the past two seasons. He’s been tagged for an ERA at 4.50 or above in both years, while his average fastball speed has ticked down around 87 MPH after sitting just under 90 earlier in his career. He still throws plenty of strikes and excels at generating soft contact, but his run prevention marks have gone in the wrong direction. Going back to the start of the 2021 campaign, the Old Dominion product has a 4.90 ERA through 50 appearances and 235 frames. The 2022 campaign was particularly challenging, as he was optioned to Triple-A on a couple occasions and missed time with groin and oblique issues.
Yarbrough was in his penultimate offseason of arbitration eligibility. Projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz for a $4.2MM salary if tendered a contract, he’s looked like a trade or non-tender candidate for the past few months. Tampa Bay reportedly shopped him at last week’s GM meetings, but they evidently didn’t find a taker. They can still look to deal him over the next few days, or he can be non-tendered and sent to free agency for the first time.
The Rays acquired Guerra from the Padres in April. He was outrighted off the roster not long after but made it back to the big league club midseason. He provided the Rays with 16 innings of 3.38 ERA ball, but he only managed a 12.9% strikeout rate while walking 11.4% of opponents. The 27-year-old former shortstop throws very hard but hasn’t found much success missing bats at the upper levels.
Madris, 26, was snagged off…