Additions and Subtractions; Offseason Transactions
The Winter Meetings have come and gone, and while there are still roster overhauls to be made, MLB organizations are gaining a clearer picture of what their minor league systems will look like when the season commences in early April. The Tampa Bay Rays are no different, as they’ve been one of the most active teams this offseason when it comes to personnel changes, both in the front office and on the playing field. Today though, we’ll give you an update on some of the team’s minor league transactions, updating you on some faces you won’t be seeing in a Bulls uniform next season, and some of the guys who will take their spots.
INF Cole Figueroa, who was Designated for Assignment a few weeks back, signed a minor league contract with the New York Yankees on 12/15. The versatile infielder spent parts of three seasons in Durham, hitting .285 over 288 games in the Bull City. The University of Florida product made his MLB debut in 2014, appearing in 23 games for the Rays.
RHP Merrill Kelly has signed a deal with the SK Wyverns of the Korean Baseball Organization, ending his run as a solid pitcher in the Rays system. An 8th round pick out of Arizona State in 2010, the 26-year-old had a banner year in 2014 by going 9-4 with a 2.76 ERA for the Bulls. He spent the past season and a half in Durham, and was a solid 17-8 with a 2.94 ERA between 2013 and 2014, making 29 starts in 43 appearances.
OF Jerry Sands, who spent one season in the Tampa Bay system, has signed a deal with the Cleveland Indians. The product of Smithfield-Selma High School became an immediate fan-favorite in Durham, but only played in 54 games for the Bulls this season before a promotion to Tampa Bay. After 12 games with the Rays he suffered a strained tendon in his left wrist, and did not play for the remainder of the year.
INF Allan Dykstra, the 2014 Triple-A Home Run Derby champion, signed a minor league contract with the Rays in late November. A Wake Forest product, Dykstra joins the organization from the Mets’ system after hitting .280-16-74 in 117 games for Triple-A Las Vegas in 2014. In three seasons with the Demon Deacons from 2006-2008, the San Diego native hit .318-49-166, with a career .492 on-base percentage.
OF Corey Brown was inked to a minor league deal by Tampa Bay in early December, and he brings with him significant power. The 29-year-old has spent the bulk of the last four seasons in the International League, cracking 75 homers over that span. If his name rings a bell, it could be because of the fact he’s been one of the IL’s biggest Bull Killers over the past three seasons. Since 2012, he’s hit .356 (21-for-59) against Durham while knocking seven homers. In the 2014 Governors’ Cup Finals with Pawtucket, Brown torched the Bulls by going 5-for-14 with two doubles, a homer and four RBIs. Needless to say, we’re glad he’s on our side now.
*You can keep up with every minor league free agent here.