Perez to Bucs as Rays pare down roster

November 1st, 2020

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays continued their early offseason roster shuffling on Friday by placing catchers and and right-handers and on waivers.

Roe, Kittredge and Smith all cleared waivers, making them free agents. Perez was claimed by the Pirates. The backup catcher was a surprise cut by the Rays, especially coming on the heels of the news that the team will not pick up the club option for 2021 on ’s contract.

Perez, who played in 38 games this year, served as the team’s backup catcher most of the last three seasons. In 84 games with the Rays, Perez hit two home runs and finished with a .600 OPS. Perez also had a two-run homer in Game 3 of the American League Division Series against the Yankees.

With Zunino, Perez and Smith not on the roster, the only catching option the Rays have on the 40-man roster is , ranked by MLB Pipeline as the organization's No. 12 prospect. Hernandez spent the entire 2020 season at the alternate training site. He hasn’t played above Class A Advanced, making him an unlikely candidate for Opening Day.

Tampa Bay has kept the door open in coming to contract agreements with Zunino and Smith. The Rays also will look to be opportunistic in the free agent/trade market in order to add a catcher or two.

Kittredge and Roe are both recovering from season-ending injuries, and the Rays will look to find ways to bring both back. Kittredge appeared headed for Tommy John surgery after suffering a UCL sprain in August, but he is trying to avoid the procedure. Roe, on the other hand, missed the majority of the season with a right elbow injury but is expected to be healthy by next season.

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The decision to place Roe, Kittredge, Perez and Smith on waivers is part of the Rays’ attempt to create space on the 40-man roster. On Sunday, the Rays need to reinstate right-hander and left-handers , and , who were all on the 45-day injured list to end the season. The Rays also need to clear room in order to protect prospects from the Rule 5 Draft in December. Outfielder and infielder are possible 40-man roster additions.

With the moves on Friday, the Rays’ 40-man roster stands at 33. That number will go up to 37 with the expected reinstatements of Poche, Chirinos, Beeks and Reed.