ST. PETERSBURG — Making room for their next cadre of top young arms forced the Rays into some difficult roster decisions Friday as they parted ways with catcher J.P. Arencibia and reliever Brandon Gomes, among others.
Lefty Blake Snell and right-handers Jacob Faria, Taylor Guerrieri and German Marquez were added to the 40-man roster in order to be protected from selection in the upcoming Rule 5 draft, as was infielder/outfielder Taylor Motter.
"These are the next wave of Rays pitchers who will come up through our system and be a big asset for us for the major-league club," baseball operations president Matt Silverman said. "Four really good, quality arms that have become the hallmark of the Rays system."
Tampa Bay added another arm as well, claiming right-hander Chase Whitley off waivers from the Yankees. Whitley, 26, is recovering from May 2015 Tommy John elbow surgery and is not expected to be ready until late in the 2016 season, though Silverman said they see him as "a good starter" who can be with them for several seasons. Whitley was 1-2 with a 4.19 ERA in four starts for the Yankees before getting hurt.
The additions led to subtractions, with Arencibia, Gomes, outfielder Daniel Nava and reliever Kirby Yates designated for assignment. Grayson Garvin and Burch Smith, two pitchers who missed 2015 with injuries, were outrighted off the roster but will stay in the organization after clearing waivers.
In ditching Arencibia, who hit .310 with six homers in 24 games, the Rays chose, at least for now, to stick with Rene Rivera, who hit .178 in 110 games, as the apparent backup to Curt Casali.
Silverman said they talked extensively and felt they were "better served" with the current group (including prospects Luke Maile and Justin O'Conner) "and with others who we might be able to add." He also said they hoped to stay in contact with Arencibia, who seems likely to seek a major-league deal elsewhere.
Gomes was 2-6, 4.27 while making a career-high 63 appearances in 2015. Silverman said that between the projected makeup of the bullpen and Gomes being out of options and arbitration-eligible, "it was difficult for us to see the great fit there."
Snell, who turns 23 next month, seems closest to the majors of the young arms. He earned Baseball America minor-league player of the year honors after a dazzling season in which he went 15-4, 1.41 with 163 strikeouts in 134 innings between the advanced Class A, Double-A and Triple-A levels.
Motter, 26, also has a chance to be part of the big-league team based on his versatility and his 2015 team MVP performance at Triple-A Durham, where he hit .292 with 14 homers, 72 RBI, 26 steals and a .366 on-base percentage.
Faria, 22, led the minors with 17 wins (vs. four losses) and ranked second with a 1.92 ERA (minimum 130 innings) for advanced Class A Charlotte and Double-A Montgomery. Top 2011 draft pick Guerrieri, 22, was 5-3, 1.85 in 20 games for the Stone Crabs and Biscuits in his first full season after Tommy John surgery. Marquez, 20, was 7-13, 3.56 for Charlotte.
• The proposed spring trip to Cuba, assuming MLB secures the requisite governmental approvals, now looks to be a three-day visit to Havana with two games against a Cuban squad the last week of March/April 1.
TIGERS REACQUIRE MAYBIN: Detroit acquired outfielder Cameron Maybin from Atlanta in exchange for left-handers Ian Krol and Gabe Speier. Maybin, 28, returns to the organization that drafted him in the first round in 2005.
BREWERS STAY BUSY: New Milwaukee general manager David Stearns made a trade for the third straight day, dealing infielder Luis Sardinas, 22, to the Mariners for outfielder Ramon Flores, 23.
JAYS, A'S SWAP PITCHERS: Toronto acquired right-hander Jesse Chavez, 32, from Oakland in exchange for right-hander Liam Hendriks, 26.
MARLINS: Ace right-hander and Alonso High product Jose Fernandez said any conversations regarding his 2016 workload will include his agent, Scott Boras, contrary to what the team has said. Club president David Samson last week pledged to exclude Boras after the agent complained about the team's handling of another Boras client, outfielder Marcell Ozuna.
Information from Times wires was used in this report. Contact Marc Topkin at [email protected] Follow @TBTimes_Rays.