What the Rays 40-Man Roster Means for the Bulls

On Friday night, the Rays set their 40-man roster, adding LHP Blake Snell, UTL Taylor Motter, RHP Jacob Faria, RHP Taylor Guerrieri and RHP German Marquez from the minor league ranks. Among those designated for assignment were C JP Arencibia, RHP Kirby Yates, RHP Brandon Gomes and OF Daniel Nava, while RHP Burch Smith and LHP Grayson Garvin were outrighted to Durham.

Now, what’s the point of setting the 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 last year, specifically paragraphs two and three.)

So how do these moves affect the Bulls? Let’s take a crack at breaking down what it means for the 2016 Bull City squad.

Blake Snell went 6-2 with a 1.83 ERA in nine Triple-A starts in 2015

Blake Snell went 6-2 with a 1.83 ERA in nine Triple-A starts in 2015

First things first, it’s clear the Rays wanted to protect a number of young, talented pitchers in Snell, Faria, Guerrieri and Marquez. Snell, as everyone knows, was the best pitcher in the Minors last year, going 15-4 with a 1.41 ERA between three levels. Not too far behind him was Faria, who went 17-4 with a 1.92 ERA between Advanced-A and Double-A in 2015. Guerrieri, who was in his first full season back after undergoing Tommy John surgery, went 5-3 with a 1.85 in 20 appearances, as the Rays tried to limit the 2011 first round pick’s innings coming off the injury. Marquez, just 20 years old, went just 7-13 at Advanced-A a season ago, despite a solid 3.56 ERA. Snell will be competing for a spot in the Rays rotation when Spring Training rolls around, while Faria and Guerrieri appear to be slotted to open the season in Durham. Because of his young age, Marquez would most likely open the season with Double-A Montgomery, with the potential of reaching Durham later in the season if his performance warrants it.

The other player the Rays added to the roster, Motter is a familiar name around the Bull City after he was named Durham’s Team MVP and an IL Midseason and Postseason All-Star in 2015, his first season at the Triple-A level. The 26-year-old is an intriguing prospect, not just because of his ability but because of his versatility. This past season the former 17th round pick started at least five games at six different positions, while also batting in all nine spots in the batting order. If he doesn’t open the year with the Rays, you can expect Motter to bat in the top third of Durham’s lineup on Opening Day.

In his first Triple-A season, Taylor Motter hit .292 with 14 homers.

In his first Triple-A season, Taylor Motter hit .292 with 14 homers.

Smith and Garvin, who were both on the 40-man roster for the duration of 2015, were both injured all season. Upon their return to health, they both figure to slot somewhere in Durham’s pitching staff.

For the four guys who were designated for assignment? Typically players in these situations will shop around with other teams, seeing if they can ink a big league contract elsewhere. If not, it’s not unusual for players to return to the organization that DFA’d them either.

In just 99 games, JP Arencibia led the Bulls with 22 long balls.

In just 99 games, JP Arencibia led the Bulls with 22 long balls.

Arencibia led the Bulls in homers this season, before he was called up in August. Yates, a stalwart in Durham’s bullpen for the last three seasons, shuttled back-and-forth between the Bulls and Rays all season. Gomes has played for Durham and Tampa Bay every season since 2011, while Nava was claimed off waivers by the Rays in early August and spent the remainder of the season at the big league level.

Nothing is set in stone though, and the Rays don’t mind making a trade or two as President of Baseball Operations Matt Silverman has already orchestrated 13 trades in 13 months on the job. Plus, the Winter Meetings are right around the corner, where trade talks always heat up. Basically this gives us a better idea of who the Rays want to stick around, but we’re still a long way off from predicting the Opening Day lineup.

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