ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays gave up on waiting for Brad Boxberger to regain his past form, trading the 2015 American League All-Star and saves leader to Arizona on Thursday for a low-level prospect.
By making the move in advance of today’s 8 p.m. deadline to tender contracts, the Rays saved the projected $1.9 million Boxberger was to make via arbitration and got something — Class A right-hander Curtis Taylor — for a player they might have cut loose.
Of their 11 remaining arbitration-eligible players, the toughest decision appears to be infielder Brad Miller, but he seems more likely to be traded or stay (for now).
After two injury-marred and disappointing seasons (8-7, 4.02, 0-for-5 in saves combined), Boxberger said he is fully healthy and confident of a bounce-back, which could haunt the Rays as they might be seeking a closer if they trade MLB saves leader Alex Colome, as seems likely.
"I’m looking to go in to Arizona and have the year I knew I was going to have in Tampa," Boxberger said. "I finished the year really strong so just kind of building off of that … feeling 100 percent with mechanics and health-wise and location and all that with all my pitches."
Taylor, 22, was 3-4, 3.32 in 13 starts last year at Class A Kane County before being shut down due to a right shoulder impingement, though the Rays say he will be ready to start the season.
Expect the Rays to tender contracts to starter Jake Odorizzi (projected to make $6.5 million), outfielder/DH Corey Dickerson ($6.4M), Colome ($5.5M), shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria ($5M), outfielder Steven Souza Jr. ($3.6M), catcher Jesus Sucre ($1.3M) and infielder Matt Duffy ($900K). Odorizzi, Dickerson, Colome and Hechavarria could be traded later. Miller, projected to make $4.4 million, is a tougher call as the Rays gamble on whether he can rebound from a poor and injury-marred 2017. The Rays could explore further trades or possibly nontender relievers Dan Jennings ($2.5M), Xavier Cedeno ($1.4M) and Chase Whitley ($1M).