ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays appreciated how hard Brent Honeywell worked over the last three years to get back on the mound — and to finally get to the major leagues this April — after a 2018 elbow injury and a series of setbacks derailed his once-promising career.
But unlikely to have a spot for the 26-year-old right-hander on their 2022 staff, and unable to shuttle him from Triple-A Durham as he is out of minor-league options, the Rays on Friday traded Honeywell to Oakland.
“We wanted more than anything to give him an opportunity to go somewhere and get a chance to pitch on a regular basis,” said Kevin Ibach, Rays senior director of pro personnel and pro scouting.
The return is an undisclosed amount of cash. Also important to the Rays was opening an additional spot on the 40-man roster, as they were able to add four prospects: infielder Jonathan Aranda, infielder/catcher Ford Proctor and right-hander pitchers Calvin Faucher and Tommy Romero.
Those four, along with catcher Rene Pinto, added last week, are now protected from being taken in the Rule 5 draft, which is scheduled for Dec. 9 but could be delayed due to a lockout stemming from negotiations for a new labor agreement.
Ibach said they had probably five other players from their deep farm system they discussed protecting. One, pitcher Tobias Myers, instead was traded to Cleveland for infielder Junior Caminero, an 18-year-old who had an impressive first pro season in the Dominican Summer League.
“We had a lot of tough roster decisions,” Ibach said.
Honeywell was the Rays’ top prospect in 2017 before blowing out his elbow in spring training 2018, and he missed three full seasons dealing with rehab and setbacks. He made his major-league debut April 11, but pitched in only three games for the Rays, spending most of the season at Triple-A Durham.
“Him making the tremendous comeback from all the injuries that he’s had over the years, I was fortunate enough to be in the ballpark there when he made his big-league debut this year, and I think we all got a little misty-eyed over that,” Ibach said.
“It’s tough when you don’t have the opportunity laid out there in front of you. You see a lot of depth that we’ve acquired over the past few years. I think he’ll have an opportunity to go somewhere now and take the ball. Whether it’s every fifth day, whether it’s in a bulk role, out of the bullpen, I think Oakland deploys their pitching staff in very similar ways that we do, so I think it should be a seamless adjustment for him. But also going to a place where they wanted him.”
Aranda, 23, was MVP of the Double-A South league and his Montgomery team, hitting .325 with 10 home runs, 58 RBIs and a .950 OPS in 79 games after a promotion from High-A Bowling Green. And he plays all four infield positions. While the free-agent signee from Mexico’s primary position is unsettled, Ibach said “the bat is driving the value here.”
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Faucher, 26, was acquired from the Twins in July with Nelson Cruz and did better with the Rays, posting a 1.44 ERA in 13 games for Montgomery and Durham. A 2017 10th-round pick from Cal-Irvine, Faucher is 11-7, 4.21 ERA in 107 appearances over parts of four minor-league seasons.
Proctor, 24, was a 2018 third-round pick from Rice as an infielder but converted in 2020 to catching and, Ibach said, could play anywhere on the field. He hit .244 with 12 home runs, 47 RBIs and an .800 OPS at Double-A.
Romero, a 24-year-righty acquired from Seattle in the May 2018 trade of Alex Colome and Denard Span, went 8-2, 2.61 in 23 starts between Montgomery and Durham. “He finished about as strong as any pitcher in our system over the last month,” Ibach said.
To open other spots, the Rays also traded infielder Mike Brosseau to Milwaukee and reliever Louis Head to Miami and released Dietrich Enns so he can sign with a yet-to-be identified team in Japan.
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