ST. PETERSBURG — On their way to tendering all 11 arbitration-eligible players and the others on their 40-man roster, the Rays on Friday night traded two players — infielder/outfielder Vidal Brujan and reliever Calvin Faucher — who didn’t fit into their 2024 plans to the Marlins.
In return, the Rays got right-hander Andrew Lindsey, Miami’s fifth-round pick in the 2023 draft; infielder Erick Lara, a 17-year-old who played in the Dominican Summer League; and another minor-leaguer to be named.
“Players that have some good ingredients,” baseball operations president Erik Neander said. “Excited to bring them in and see what happens.”
The 11 players eligible for arbitration all look to either be key parts of the team or have enough trade value to hang on to for now.
“We have a lot of players in their arbitration years, but all players we appreciate and frankly all easy decisions to tender them and continue forward,” Neander said.
Some moves are expected, however, as the current payroll would be headed to an extreme record high in excess of $120 million. The previous opening day high was $78.245 million in 2022.
The arbitration group, which includes two pitchers rehabbing from surgery (Drew Rasmussen, due back late 2024, and Shane McClanahan, out until 2025), is due to make around $38 million, based on mlbtraderumors.com projections.
The Rays already have nine players signed for $75.6 million, though two of the higher-paid ones, starter Tyler Glasnow (due $25 million) and outfielder Manuel Margot ($10 million), seem likely to be traded. So, too, is arbitration-eligible DH Harold Ramirez, projected to make $4.4 million. With Brujan gone, the roster is at 39. (Pitcher Cooper Criswell, already off the roster after being designated for assignment Tuesday, was technically non-tendered, making him a free agent.)
Lindsey, 24 was 3-3, 2.90 at the University of Tennessee, striking out 73 in 71 1/3 innings over 21 games (nine starts), featuring a mid- to upper-90s fastball. He pitched twice for the Marlins’ Florida Complex League team and was ranked the team’s 16th-best prospect by MLB.com.
“Somebody that has the raw ingredients to ascend to the upper levels and potentially to the big leagues one day,” Neander said. “A player we liked in college and felt like it was somebody that was a good person to target in a deal like this, and they were open to it.”
Lara, signed in January for $85,000, is a lefty swinger who hit .305 in 34 games. “A lot of signs that are encouraging when you look at offensive potential,” Neander said. “A long way to go, but like the basic, raw ingredients that exist with him.”
Stay updated on Tampa Bay’s sports scene
Subscribe to our free Sports Today newsletter
You’re all signed up!
Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.Explore all your options
Brujan, 25, has played parts of the last three seasons with the Rays, posting a .157 average with 10 extra-base hits over 99 games, though he is fast, switch hits and is versatile defensively, able to play pretty much anywhere.
With Wander Franco’s playing status for 2024 unknown pending investigations into improper relationships with minors and Taylor Walls’ availability for opening day uncertain as he recovers from hip surgery, Brujan would have been in the mix for playing time at shortstop early in the season. But he is out of options, meaning he has to stay in the majors, and the Rays decided to move on from the once-promising prospect and get something in return.
“Not the way that we thought it would turn out, once upon a time, but I think just a fresh start, fresh opportunity for Bru — given his abilities and talent — should be a good thing for him. Wish him the best,” Neander said.
Faucher, 28, was designated for assignment on Tuesday, having posted a 1-1, 7.01 record over 17 games in a 2023 season marked by injury and inconsistency. Acquired in a July 2021 trade with Nelson Cruz from Minnesota, Faucher has an overall 3-4, 6.32 record in 39 big-league games.
New Marlins baseball operations president Peter Bendix is certainly familiar with Brujan and Faucher, having been with the Rays for 15 seasons before moving across the state earlier this month.
• • •
Sign up for the Sports Today newsletter to get daily updates on the Bucs, Rays, Lightning and college football across Florida.