Rays Shake Up Roster in a Big Way

On Friday evening, the Tampa Bay Rays made a plethora of changes to their roster, many of which will have an impact on the Durham Bulls. We’ll lay out the changes first, then go in to more detail about each move.

TRADE: The Rays traded UTL Taylor Motter and INF/OF Richie Shaffer to the Seattle Mariners for RHP Dylan Thompson, RHP Andrew Kittredge and 1B/OF Dalton Kelly.

40-Man Roster: Friday was the deadline for MLB teams to add prospects to their 40-man rosters. The Rays added RHPs Austin Pruitt, Jaime Schultz, Ryne Stanek, Chih-Wei Hu and Hunter Wood, LHP Jose Alvarado and INFs Daniel Robertson and Willy Adames to the 40-man roster.

So what does this all mean? Let’s start with the trade first. Of course, this means fan-favorites Richie Shaffer and Taylor Motter are gone. The Rays 2015 Minor League Player of the Year and the Bulls 2015 MVP, respectively, each saw considerable time in Durham and Tampa Bay in 2016. Unsurprisingly, the pair handled the trade with class, and each will be missed at the DBAP.

As for the three guys the Rays picked up in the trade? Two of the guys are on the younger side. Dylan Thompson was a fourth-round pick in 2015 out of high school, while Dalton Kelly was a late-round pick in 2015 out of UC Santa Barbara. It seems unlikely either will factor in to the Durham roster next season. Andrew Kittredge, on the other hand, could definitely see innings with the Bulls. The 27-year-old split last season between Double-A and Triple-A, while registering 38 innings at the Minor League’s highest level.

Moving on to the 40-man roster. Now, what’s the point of setting the MLB 40-man roster in November you ask? Well, it’s to protect younger players from the Rule V draft. What’s the Rule V draft, you ask? Well, in short it is designed to keep teams from holding on to minor leaguers for too long without giving them a shot at the Majors. (For a longer, more in-depth breakdown of the 40-man roster and Rule V draft, see our post from 2014, specifically paragraphs two and three.)

This year the Rays protected eight Minor Leaguers by adding them to the 40-man roster, second-most in the Majors. Many of the names are familiar to Bulls fans already, as Austin Pruitt, Jaime Schultz and Daniel Robertson all spent the entire 2016 season in Durham, while Ryne Stanek was a midseason call-up from Double-A. You can expect to see all of those guys back with the Bulls next year, but if you don’t, that’s because they’ll be in Tampa.

The other four guys? The biggest name is Willy Adames, who is the Rays’ top prospect and № 19 prospect in all of baseball according to MLB.com. The shortstop is tabbed for Durham to open 2017 after a successful 2016 season that saw him take home both midseason and postseason Southern League All-Star honors with Double-A Montgomery. RHP Chih-Wei Hu made one spot-start for the Bulls this season, and projects to be in Durham after leading the Southern League in ERA in 2016.

RHP Hunter Wood split last year between Advanced-A Charlotte and Montgomery, combining to go 9–5 with a 2.39 ERA, while LHP Jose Alvarado split the campaign between Single-A Bowling Green and Charlotte. Neither seems to fit in to the Bulls’ Opening Day roster, but with a solid season Wood could see time in the Bull City.

So there you have it. The recap of what was a very busy day for the Rays on Friday. Questions, comments, concerns? Let us know, and we’ll try to clear up anything that might’ve been confusing.