Though baseball is on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Rays became the latest team to trim their Spring Training roster, optioning seven players to the Minor Leagues on Thursday.
“I think every one of these guys that were optioned today could certainly impact us at any point in the season,” said Rays manager Kevin Cash. “Whether that’s Opening Day, whether that’s 15 days in, that’s to be determined.”
Cash said every roster decision is tough, but this one was particularly difficult because of the timing. Thursday was supposed to be Opening Day across baseball, but instead Cash had “not a bunch of fun conversations today.”
While the timing was difficult, the decisions weren’t a surprise. McKay and Brosseau played key roles in the Rays’ 2019 postseason run, but both could benefit from getting consistent playing time in the Minors to begin the season.
All seven of the players optioned weren’t able to continue to make a case for the Opening Day roster because Spring Training was cut short, but all made an impression on the Rays. Arozarena and O’Grady, who were both acquired in trades during the offseason, showed off their versatility and talent over the four-plus weeks of camp and impressed their new bosses.
Arozarena went 8-for-20 with nine walks and eight runs scored in the spring, while O’Grady smashed two home runs and played every spot in the outfield in addition to third base.
“They were both very impressive and [I] expressed that to them on the phone call,” Cash said. “I think Arozarena’s athleticism really stood out and obviously the walk-to-strikeout ratio that he created in such a little amount of time. We feel really fortunate to have those two guys.”
Cash said that in the case that the rosters are expanded when the season resumes, all seven of these players would be prime candidates to be with the big league club. As of now, no decisions have been made on when the season will start or what the rosters would look like. Commissioner Rob Manfred has said that “everything is on the table” moving forward.
“My understanding, and I don’t want to speak as a fact, but to my understanding, is that we are going into a period of like a frozen roster,” Cash said. “Those guys, talking to all of them today, we very much expressed to them that we have no idea when things are going to start back up and when they do, if rosters would be expanded at that point.
“I know that there are options out there. If that’s the case, these players that are being optioned will have the opportunity to come back and join us if that were to happen.”
There is still some uncertainty about what will happen with non-roster invitees such as Aaron Loup, Ryan Sherriff, Kevan Smith and Chris Herrmann. But as of now, those players are still members of the Rays.
Some of the notable players who weren’t optioned and will continue to compete for a spot on the Opening Day roster include Daniel Robertson, Andrew Kittredge and Peter Fairbanks.
Rays, Padres complete deal
The Rays announced Thursday that they have acquired infielder Esteban Quiroz from the Padres. Quiroz represents the player to be named in the deal that sent Tommy Pham to San Diego in December.
Quiroz, 28, spent the 2019 season with Triple-A El Paso and hit .271/.384/.539 with 25 doubles, 19 home runs and 66 RBIs in 96 games. He was ranked as the No. 23 prospect in the Padres system and is now No. 30 in the Rays system, according to MLB Pipeline.
The 28-year-old was signed by the Red Sox as a Minor League free agent in 2017, but was limited to 24 games with Double-A Portland with a left abdomen strain. Before signing with Boston, Quiroz spent seven seasons in the Mexican League, where he slashed .293/.402/.451 with 38 home runs in 437 games.