Rays add bullpen depth in acquiring lefty Garrett Cleavinger; trade Ford Proctor

The 28-year-old from the Dodgers has pitched parts of three seasons in the majors and has 47 strikeouts in 29 innings this year at Triple-A.
The Rays made a small deal Monday to bolster their bullpen depth, acquiring left-hander Garrett Cleavinger from the Dodgers.
The Rays made a small deal Monday to bolster their bullpen depth, acquiring left-hander Garrett Cleavinger from the Dodgers. [ MORRY GASH | AP ]
Published Aug. 1, 2022|Updated Aug. 2, 2022

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays made a pair of small deals Monday in addition to acquiring centerfielder Jose Siri from the Astros, trading for lefty reliever Garrett Cleavinger to provide bullpen depth and shipping out infielder/catcher Ford Proctor to open a spot on the 40-man roster in advance of Tuesday’s 6 p.m. trade deadline.

Cleavinger, 28, was acquired Monday morning from the Dodgers, having pitched parts of two seasons for them and making one appearance in 2020 with the Phillies, posting a career record of 2-5 with a 4.70 ERA in 27 games.

He has spent most of this season at Triple-A Oklahoma City, striking out 47 batters over 29 innings in 22 games with an 0-2, 2.79 mark, and initially will join the Rays’ Triple-A Durham team.

The Rays gave up German Tapia, an 18-year-old outfielder hitting .329 with the Dominican Summer League team, to get him. To make room on the 40-man roster, they designated for assignment right-handed reliever Luke Bard, who was 1-1, 1.93 in eight games.

Monday night, the Rays sent Proctor, who had been added to the roster prior to the lockout but was hitting just .213 with a .635 OPS at Durham, to the Giants.

In exchange, they got Jeremy Walker, a 27-year-old right-handed reliever, who was 0-4, 6.88 in 28 appearances for Triple-A Sacramento, having missed the 2020-21 seasons due to a shoulder injury. Walker, who made his debut in 2019 with the Braves, is not on the 40-man roster and is headed to Durham.

The Rays could use the roster spot for an expected Tuesday addition or just in advance for the expected return later this month of one of several players from the 60-day injured list.

Cleavinger has some Rays’ connections via past transactions.

A third-round pick by the Orioles out of Oregon in the 2015 draft, he was first traded to the Phillies in a July 2017 deadline deal for former Rays rookie of the year pitcher Jeremy Hellickson. The Dodgers then got him in December 2020 as part of a three-way deal in which the Rays sent lefty reliever Jose Alvarado to Philadelphia.

Rasmussen ready for Jays

Since joining the Rays in mid-June 2021, Drew Rasmussen has pitched more innings against the Blue Jays than any other team — 22-1/3 over five games (four starts), with a 1-0, 1.61 record.

So, he has a good sense of the challenges that await him when he faces them Tuesday in the opener of a quick two-game series, with the finale set for 12:10 p.m. Wednesday.

“There’s a familiarity, because I’ve faced them a lot,” Rasmussen said. “There’s a ton of talent up and down that lineup. There’s no real holes, there’s no real place to hide. I wouldn’t say there’s any really ‘easy outs’ in the big leagues, but I would say there are certain guys that you feel like you should get out, for sure. And they don’t seem to have too many of those. So it’s always a fun battle.”

Rasmussen’s issue of late has been efficiency. In his last four starts, he has worked 4, 6, 5, and 4-2/3 innings but averaged 85.5 pitches per outing. “Just like to see him continue to make pitches, execute pitches, just lower that pitch count somehow,” manager Kevin Cash said.

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The Rays talks with Houston about Siri at one point also included Ji-Man Choi. ... Since a 34-23 start, the Rays have gone 20-25. ... The Jays were 46-42 when they fired manager Charlie Montoyo, the longtime Rays coach and minor-league manager, on July 13. They have gone 11-3 since under interim manager John Schneider. ... Offense continues to be a problem for the Rays: They have scored three or fewer runs in seven of their 10 post-All-Star-break games (going 3-7) and 47 times overall (10-37).

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