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Roster moves give Rays pitching depth to deal

Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Brandon Gomes (47) delivers in the top of the eleventh inning during a game between the Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015.
Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Brandon Gomes (47) delivers in the top of the eleventh inning during a game between the Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015.
Published Nov. 22, 2015

The Rays spent a lot of time talking about the roster moves they made Friday, weighing the need to protect their top young arms from being taken in the Rule 5 draft with giving up some depth at the big-league level.

By doing so, at the expense most notably of C J.P. Arencibia and RH reliever Brandon Gomes, they feel better talking about dealing more experienced (and expensive) pitchers knowing prospects LHP Blake Snell and RHPs Jacob Faria and Taylor Guerrieri should be able to help at the big-league level sometime in 2016.

"We're having conversations out of a position of strength given the pitching depth that we have and look forward to seeing how the rest of the offseason unfolds," baseball operations president Matt Silverman said.

Keeping C Rene Rivera, given his bad year, over Arencibia seemed the most interesting call. But some Rays people profile Arencibia similarly to projected starter Curt Casali as an offense-first type and preferred the balance of Rivera's defense, assuming he has to be better at the plate. Plus, there always seem to be veteran catchers available to bring in on minor-league deals.

Though Gomes was a useful piece and tremendous teammate over parts of five seasons, he didn't have a spot in their projected pen, or flexibility since he is out of options.

Though having added nine players to the roster already (including two other prospects in INF/OF Taylor Motter and RHP German Marquez), Silverman said they have plenty more to talk about this offseason.

"Once we get past this roster deadline it tends to free up clubs to explore more conversations, whether they are free agent or trade conversations, and so I expect those will pick up after the Thanksgiving holiday as we head into the winter meetings," he said. "This will be the time of year when rumors are flying and lots of activity will be taking place, and we'll certainly be in the mix in terms of those conversations."

HARROWING TRIP: Rays massage therapist Nate Leet was vacationing in Paris during the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks, never in any apparent danger but understandably concerned then moved by the emotional scenes in the aftermath. "It was just crazy," he said. "Really surreal. I couldn't believe all that was happening."

RAYS RUMBLINGS: LHP Drew Smyly was with good buddy Dallas Keuchel when he won the Cy Young Award and got quite a shout-out from the Astros ace on MLB Network: "I'm trying to get him over here to Houston because he's going to be a (Cy Young) finalist here in the next couple years." … After Gold Glove-winning CF Kevin Kiermaier received four down-ballot votes in the AL MVP balloting, NBC Sports blogger Craig Calcaterra asked if he was "the most obscure" player to get votes "just in terms of how many people know who he is?" … Government approvals for the late spring Cuba trip are considered likely, and expanding it to two games over three days makes it, and the necessary logistics, more worthwhile. ... Kiermaier won best defensive player and RHP Chris Archer (@ChrisArcher42 on Twitter) best social media personality in the MLB-run Esurance Award voting. … Kudos to ex-Devil Ray Aubrey Huff for getting past his anxiety/depression issues to try a comeback at age 39, hoping to get a camp invite with an AL team, eyeing a return to Tampa Bay . … RHP Erasmo Ramirez received a medal for his solid season and considerable media attention during appearances last week in his native Nicaragua. … The Rays are one of the 15 Fox-broadcast teams that will offer in-market streaming starting in 2016. ... With the season opener moved up to Sunday, April 3, the four-game series with Toronto will run through Wednesday, with Thursday, April 7, an off day. … Congrats to radio man Andy Freed for being named a finalist for state sportscaster of the year.

Contact Marc Topkin at mtopkin@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Rays.

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