ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays appear set to add veteran reliever Phil Maton to their bullpen.
The framework of a deal is in place but is pending results of a physical exam and not finalized, and may not be until next week. The 30-year-old right-hander is set to get $6.25 million for this season, with a 2025 option for $7.75 million — making the deal worth $14 million — or a $250,000 buyout.
Maton had a strong 2023 season with the Astros, posting a 4-3, 3.00 record with one save in 66 innings over 68 games, striking out 74 while walking 25. He excels at getting soft contact, ranking among the majors’ best in 2023, and also is known for high spin rates on his curveball and fastball, which averages 89 mph.
Maton has pitched parts of seven seasons in the majors, previously with San Diego and Cleveland, and has an overall 16-12, 4.25 record with 398 strikeouts and 136 walks over 347 innings.
He joins a Rays bullpen projected to return right-handers Pete Fairbanks, Jason Adam, Shawn Armstrong and Chris Devenski, plus lefties Colin Poche and Garrett Cleavinger (who missed much of 2023 with a knee injury). That would seem to leave the final spot between lefty Tyler Alexander (who was claimed of waivers from Detroit) or right-hander Kevin Kelly, who had an impressive rookie season. Alexander and/or Devenski also could be tried as starters.
The Rays will have to make room on the 40-man roster for Maton, but if the deal isn’t official until after camp opens next week they could do so by shifting one of their starters rehabbing from elbow surgery to the 60-day injured list.
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