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Rays deal prospects Shaffer, Motter to create room on 40-man roster

Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Richie Shaffer (36) reacts after striking out to end the sixth inning of the game between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Richie Shaffer (36) reacts after striking out to end the sixth inning of the game between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016.

In making space to add eight up-and-coming players to their roster Friday, the Rays gave up on two previously promising prospects, trading 2012 first-round pick Richie Shaffer and Taylor Motter to Seattle for three thus far unheralded minor-leaguers.

To make further room, the Rays designated for assignment reliever Steve Geltz, who pitched his way back to the minors in a rough 2016 season, and released rehabbing lefty John Lamb, acquired recently from the Reds.

The eight players added to the roster, and thus protected from selection in the upcoming Rule 5 draft, included two top position prospects in Willy Adames and Daniel Robertson and six pitchers: Jose Alvarado, Chih-Wei Hu, Austin Pruitt, Jaime Schultz, Ryne Stanek and Hunter Wood.

"This is a big crew for us," senior VP Chaim Bloom said. "We felt it was important to make sure these guys were in the organization and we did not expose them to the Rule 5 because we think there is some real upside with all of them and some real chances to contribute."

Though Shaffer, 25, was in the majors during the past two seasons (hitting .213 with a .720 OPS), Bloom said the Rays had enough other talent ahead of and behind him at first, such as prospects Jake Bauers and Casey Gillaspie, that he didn't fit in for 2017.

"It just seemed like an area where we weren't going to have the opportunity for him given who else we have and the depth in those areas," he said.

Similarly, Bloom said with Adames and Robertson playing at Triple A, they wouldn't have had room for Motter, who had a disappointing 2016 debut on (hitting .188) and off the field.

Geltz had issues as well, allowing 11 homers in 262/3 innings.

Of the players acquired, pitcher Andrew Kittredge is most advanced, having reached Triple A in 2016, while pitcher Dylan Thompson was ranked Seattle's No. 22 prospect and first baseman Dalton Kelly has potential.

Also:

• The Rays are "right in the thick of things" for free agent catcher Jason Castro after making an initial offer, but agent Fred Wray said there is no timetable for a decision as they are "working through multiple offers and weighing options/opportunity." The Braves, Twins and White Sox are reported among teams interested in the former Astros All-Star, who hit .215 with a .660 OPS in 2014-16.

Rays release spring schedule

The Rays' spring training schedule released Friday includes 18 games in Port Charlotte, featuring a March 8 exhibition against the Colombian World Baseball Classic team, and six in the immediate Tampa Bay area.

The first workout for pitchers and catchers will be Feb. 14 and the full squad Feb. 19, with all teams getting an earlier start due to the WBC in mid to late March.

The Rays are taking deposits now on season tickets (starting at $325), will offer three-game packs during a Cyber Monday promotion Nov. 28 and will open single-game sales Jan. 13.

Here is the spring training schedule, all games 1:05 p.m. unless noted, and subject to change:

FEBRUARY: 24 — at Twins, 7 p.m.; 25 — Pirates; 26 — Red Sox; 27— at Phillies; 28— Twins

MARCH: 1 — Phillies; 2 — at Red Sox; 3 — Tigers; 4 — Orioles; 5 — at Blue Jays; 6 — OFF; 7 — at Yankees; 8 — Colombian WBC team, 6:35; 9 — Pirates; 10 — at Pirates; 11 — at Red Sox; 12 — Blue Jays; 13 — at Twins; 14 — Yankees/at Orioles; 15 — Red Sox; 16 — OFF; 17 — Twins; 18 — at Blue Jays; 19 — Phillies; 20 — Pirates; 21 — at Pirates; 22 — at Orioles, 6 p.m.; 23 — Yankees; 24 — at Pirates; 25 — Red Sox; 26 — at Yankees; 27— OFF; 28 — at Twins; 29 — Orioles; 30 — Twins; 31 — at Phillies.

Rays deal prospects Shaffer, Motter to create room on 40-man roster 11/18/16 [Last modified: Friday, November 18, 2016 10:47pm]
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