The Rays took care of the easy part of their off-season business on Thursday, picking up a $2-million option on RHP Nathan Eovaldi and reinstating him and three others from the 60-day DL.
Eovaldi, 27, spent 2017 rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, returning to make several rehab appearances during the minor-league playoffs, and manager Kevin Cash said they expect him to play a key role in their 2018 rotation. The option was part of the deal when the Rays signed Eovaldi going into the 2017 season, in which they paid him $2-million to rehab.
Eovaldi can earn up to an additional $3,500,000 based on innings and games started. (He has a similar package on incentives based on relief innings, appearances and games finished.)
The Rays will have at least one opening in their rotation with the expected departure of free agent Alex Cobb.
The Rays also reinstated Eovaldi, INF Matt Duffy, RHP Taylor Guerrieri and RHP Shawn Tolleson from the 60-day DL.
That leaves their roster at 36, as they removed their eight free agents – Cobb; 1B/DH Lucas Duda and Logan Morrison; RH relievers Steve Cishek, Tommy Hunter and Sergio Romo; OF Peter Bourjos; INF Trevor Plouffe.
Also technically a free agent is OF/DH Colby Rasmus, who started last season with the Rays but ended up on the restricted list. He would seem to be retired at this point, but it's possible he could see to play again.