Collin McHugh was happy for an opportunity to join the Rays. Chaz Roe was thrilled to get a chance to come back.
The Rays’ stockpiling of arms continued Monday, with finalization of deals to sign the two veteran free agents to one-year deals. McHugh got $1.8 million, Roe $1.15 million.
McHugh, 33, had a solid six-year stretch with the Astros, going 58-35 with a 3.63 ERA while working primarily as a starter. He signed with the Red Sox for 2020, then sat out the abbreviated season to continue rehab from a 2019 flexor strain, from which he says he is recovered and fully healthy.
He said the Rays were at the top of his list based on their overall success, reputation for getting the most out of pitchers and proximity to his Atlanta home. He also heard great things from former Astros teammate Charlie Morton, who spent the last two years in Tampa Bay.
“The glowing remarks that people have to say about this team and this organization, the city, it speaks volumes about what what this team has been able to do,” McHugh said on a Zoom media call from Port Charlotte. “And then obviously the success they’ve had in the last few years. ... I’m excited to be a part of it.”
Manager Kevin Cash said the versatility McHugh can provide will be a big help.
“I think what we really like about Collin is that he’s pitched in so many different roles,” Cash said . “He’s proven over his career that he can be really versatile and really effective — whether it’s starting, whether it’s (to) provide late-inning (relief), one-inning stints or (a) multi-inning role. From talking to him, it sounds like he’s kind of up for whatever.”
Roe, 34, had been with the Rays since July 2017 but pitched in only 10 games last season due to right-elbow soreness that ended his year in late August. “Rest and rehab” helped, and he showed in a recent bullpen session for scouts he was fully recovered and good to go.
Once the Rays showed interest in a reunion, Roe said his choice was clear. “It was a no-brainer once the offer came in,” he said. “I love it here, I love the group of guys.”
Cash considers Roe “a mainstay” of their bullpen who helps out with his pitching and leadership.
“Chaz brings so much on the field coming in and getting that (group of tough) righties out with the fastball-slider combination,” the manager said. “Even when he’s not pitching, just what he’s been through in his career, a lot of pitchers can kind of relate to that, scuffling and all of a sudden getting really good and help being part of what we feel is a very strong bullpen.”
To make room on the 40-man roster, the Rays shifted pitchers Yonny Chirinos (recovering from Tommy John surgery) and Oliver Drake (flexor procedure) to the 60-day injured list. The Rays have 42 pitchers in camp, 38 on the active roster.
• Among a group of early reporting position players who were in good shape, Cash said outfielder Austin Meadows “looks awesome. He had a really rough season last year with injuries and COVID. Really proud of Austin for for working really hard this offseason.”
• The annual meeting marking the first full-squad workout will be held Tuesday but will be somewhat abbreviated and moved from the clubhouse to the stadium due to COVID-19 protocols. Players will be positioned in distanced seating throughout the stands.
• A portion of the full-squad workouts will be open to media starting Tuesday; under Major League Baseball rules, there was no media access to the facilities the first week.