The Rays made a minor trade on Monday night, sending right-hander Aaron Slegers to the Angels for a player to be named or cash considerations.
For the Rays, the trade was a necessary move to clear a spot on their previously full 40-man roster for the addition of Chris Archer, whose signing was officially announced Tuesday.
Given his flexibility and prior experience in the rotation, Slegers seemed like an interesting fit for the Rays moving forward as they focus on stockpiling starters and bulk-inning arms to combat the challenges of increasing pitchers’ workloads from last year’s 60-game season to a 162-game schedule this season.
But Tampa Bay has plenty of Opening Day-ready options on that front -- more traditional starters, multi-inning relievers and young pitchers who could fill either role -- and the front office could further supplement that group between now and Opening Day. Adding players to the 40-man roster also won’t require quite this type of roster crunch after the club is able to move injured or rehabbing pitchers to the 60-day injured list early in Spring Training.
Slegers, 28, put together a 3.41 ERA with three saves in 29 innings over 12 appearances for the Rays over the last two years. He gave up five runs without recording an out in the third inning of his 2020 season debut against the Red Sox, then posted a 1.88 ERA in 24 innings over 10 outings the rest of the regular season. The 6-foot-10 righty was on the Rays’ roster for the American League Wild Card Series, Division Series and Championship Series, allowing just one run in five innings over three outings.
With a sinker that averaged 91.2 mph last season, Slegers doesn’t throw hard or force hitters to swing and miss much. He struck out only 18.8 percent of the hitters he faced last season, but he makes hitters put the ball on the ground, as his career 48.1 percent ground ball rate proves. He was also effective at avoiding hard contact last year, posting a 28 percent hard-hit rate that ranked among the top 8 percent of all Major League pitchers and a 2.7 percent barrel rate that ranked in the top 4 percent.