With a greater need for another reliever than infield depth, the Rays on Tuesday designated once-promising prospect Daniel Robertson for assignment.
The move was made to create space on the 40-man roster for Edgar Garcia, a 23-year-old right-hander acquired from the Phillies for a player to be named or cash.
Garcia, who pitched in 37 games last season with a 5.77 ERA, will initially join the alternate site camp in Port Charlotte but could be summoned soon if needed to bolster the overworked bullpen.
Robertson, 26, had not played in a game this season, serving two short stints on the active roster and spending most of his time working out in Port Charlotte or on the taxi squad for road trips. The Rays have seven days to trade, release or pass Robertson through waivers. If unclaimed, he could stay in the organization.
“It was a tough call, because Robby has been a part of us for three-four years now,” manager Kevin Cash said on a Zoom video call from New York. “Wish him the best. If he goes and gets an opportunity, great for him. If not, we’re going to welcome him back with open arms because he’s a major-league player that can help us.”
The 2012 first-round pick by Oakland was a key part of the return in the January 2015 trade of Ben Zobrist. But he had mixed results and limited playing time over the previous three seasons after making the opening day roster each time.
Known for his smooth defense at shortstop and second and third base, Robertson’s best offensive season was 2018, when he hit .262 with nine homers, 34 RBIs and a .797 OPS in 87 games (80 starts). Last season he hit .213 with two homers, 19 RBIs and a .607 OPS over 74 games (58 starts) while missing a month due to arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.
In his absence, Brandon Lowe emerged as a starting second baseman and Mike Brosseau as a more versatile reserve.
“To Robby’s credit, he played a lot of last year pretty banged up, and that didn’t help,” Cash said. “With him being banged up, I think it presented opportunity for other players, whether it’s Brandon, whether it’s Mike Brosseau, who really came in and played well.
“That’s not a knock to Robby. We appreciate all of Robby’s effort. While he was active, he helped us win games. But I think last year was really trying for him with the knee injury. Glad he got that fixed. He seemed to be in a much better spot. Saying that, we had some decisions to make coming out of the gate this year, and we went another way obviously with Brandon and Mikey.”
Robertson was most valuable to the Rays this season as a strong defensive option if shortstop Willy Adames were to get hurt. But Joey Wendle has proved a capable backup, and the Rays have middle infielders Lucius Fox and Vidal Brujan on the 40-man roster if they need more help. Plus, Brosseau has gotten reps at short.
García has a mid-90s fastball, a plus slider and an intriguing change-up but looks to need some work on his command and control. He allowed 11 homers in 39 innings last season and walked 26 but also struck out 45. The Phillies designated him for assignment on Thursday.
“He’s a young right-hander that our guys like,” Cash said. “He does some interesting staff and has shown the ability to strike some people out.”
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The Rays also added to their starting — or bulk-inning depth — signing left-hander Dietrich Enns, a 29-year-old who pitched briefly for the Twins in 2017 and this year was with the Tully Monsters in an independent league, going 2-0, 0.72 with 42 strikeouts in 25 innings. Enns signed a minor-league deal, was added to the 60-player pool and reported to Port Charlotte.
Alvarado shut down, Morton improving
Lefty reliever Jose Alvarado’s stint on the injured list won’t be short. Cash said he will be shut down from throwing for 10-14 days, with a Monday doctor exam in New York showing the cause of the shoulder inflammation that sidelined him after Friday’s game looks to be a lat strain. … Starter Charlie Morton, sidelined since Aug. 9 with shoulder inflammation “felt really good” after throwing a “pretty intense” bullpen session in Port Charlotte Tuesday, Cash said. He looks to be on track for a return this weekend against Toronto. … Reliever Oliver Drake, sidelined since Aug. 9 with biceps tendinitis, “seems to be doing better,” Cash said, and may start a throwing program in a few days.
Quote of the day
“She’s been extremely busy, so maybe there’s going to be a couple cookies at home for me.”
— Brandon Lowe, whose AL Player of the Week award apparently did not merit getting any congratulatory treats over-nighted from his wife Madison, whose Sweet and Lowe Bakery business is apparently booming with paying customers
Tuesday’s game ended with the first Roe vs. Wade matchup in major-league history, Rays reliever Chaz Roe getting Yankees infielder Tyler Wade to fly out. ... Tuesday’s game started a season-long stretch of playing 16 straight days. … Yandy Diaz’s streak of reaching base ended after 22 games. … The Rays are a majors-best 11-3 since ending their five-game losing streak. ... Lefty Sean Gilmartin is expected to be added to the taxi squad for the remainder of the trip. … Lowe extended his hitting streak to nine games. ... Lefty Aaron Loup on Sunday became the first Rays pitcher to win two games that finished on the same day and first in the majors since the White Sox’s David Robertson in 2016.