The Upcoming Roster Jam
In little more than two weeks, rosters will expand and teams will be allowed to carry as many as 40 players on their active roster. But, before the Rays get to September, they’ll need to make a number of time-sensitive roster decisions.
Adding Wesley Wright gave the Rays a full 40-man roster. That means, when Alex Cobb returns from the 60-day disabled list in a few days, the Rays will need to clear space on both the 25- and 40-man rosters. Presumably the Rays will designate Jason Bourgeois for assignment with the intent to option him to Durham, thus clearing the necessary spots with one move.
A few days later the Rays will need to create another 25-man spot for Matt Moore, and that’s where things become complicated. The Rays could choose to option Ryan Roberts to Triple-A, though such a move would leave them with a short bench. Alternatively they could release Roberto Hernandez, designate Cesar Ramos for assignment, or optioning Alex Torres to the minors—highly unlikely, obviously.
Even after the Rays clear those spots, they’ll need to clear at least two more before August ends—and that’s assuming Jesse Crain’s debut will come in September and not a day before. Desmond Jennings, who went on the disabled list in early August, figures to return before the end of the month and will necessitate another 25-man roster move—likely one of the remaining aforementioned routes.
The other move that requires a 40-man roster spot is the eventual activation of Brandon Gomes. Although Gomes has been on the 60-day disabled list for the better part of the month, he’s also spent close to the allotted 30 days on a rehab assignment. When that assignment window closes in the coming days Gomes will need to be activated, even if the Rays choose to option him to Durham.
The Rays do have some flexibility with the moves requiring only a 40-man move, as they could transfer Brandon Guyer from the 15- to the 60-day DL, or recall Alex Colome and pull the same trick. If they do clear some brush from the 40-man roster then expect it to be someone like Jeff Beliveau—an in-season waiver claim who might be the the sixth-best left-handed reliever on the 40-man roster.
Of course there are a lot of variables that could pop up between now and month’s end. Someone could get hurt, someone could get hurt, the Rays could designate Gomes for assignment—bypassing the need for an alternative move—, and so on. The Rays being the Rays, they’ll likely find new ways to navigate the rules without losing depth.