The Rockies announced a bunch of roster moves this evening. Among them, Michael Cuddyer and Eddie Butler have been placed on the disabled list and Wilton Lopez has been designated for assignment. The Lopez move clears a spot for Monday’s scheduled starter Christian Bergman while reliever Chad Bettis has also been called up from Triple-A.
Cuddyer was placed on the disabled list with a left shoulder strain, which he suffered while diving for a ball at third base last Thursday. According to Patrick Saunders and Nick Groke of the Denver Post, Rockies trainer Keith Dugger indicated this evening that the injury could keep him sidelined for a lengthy period of time. The 35-year-old already had a stint on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring, so he has been limited to just 31 games this season.
Butler just made his major league debut last Friday against the Dodgers, giving up six runs over 5 1/3 innings, but now he’s headed to the disabled list with right rotator cuff inflammation. Dugger called the move “precautionary,” but the Rockies were alarmed after he complained of “soreness in his armpit area.” It’s a tough break for one of the Rockies’ top prospects.
As for Lopez, he had a 2.64 ERA with the Astros from 2010-2012, but posted a 4.06 ERA in 75 appearances with the Rockies last season and was demoted to Triple-A in April after giving up eight runs over his first 6 1/3 innings of work. He’s making $2.2 million this season.
The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.
Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.
Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”
Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.
The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.