Interesting move by the Rays this afternoon, as they have added former 2004 No. 1 overall pick Matt Bush to their 40-man roster, according to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times. Bush, who turns 25 in February, otherwise would have had the right to become a free agent.
Bush, of course, is known as one of the biggest busts in draft history. He was involved in a bar fight before even making his pro debut and batted just .219/.294/.276 over four seasons before trying his luck as a pitcher in 2007. He was picked up by the Blue Jays in February of 2009 after missing the entire 2008 season following Tommy John surgery, but was cut loose after allegedly assaulting some lacrosse players at his old high school. In addition to his extensive legal troubles, he has the unfortunate distinction of joining Brien Taylor and Steve Chilcott as the only former No. 1 picks never to play in the major leagues.
The Rays took a chance by signing Bush to a minor league contract in January. He posted a 3.29 ERA and 20/3 K/BB ratio over 13 2/3 innings between rookie ball and High-A Charlotte this past season, which was apparently impressive enough for him to return for another season. If he manages to end up as a pitcher in the major leagues, great, but turning his life around should still be the No. 1 priority.
Blue Jays closer Ken Giles hasn’t exactly turned things around since joining the Blue Jays on July 31, when the club sent embattled closer Roberto Osuna to the Astros. Giles posted a 4.99 ERA in 30 2/3 innings with the Astros, then put up a slightly less miserable 4.58 ERA in 17 2/3 innings with the Jays. Still, he’s much happier with the Jays than he was with the Astros, even after winning the World Series with them last year. He said to Rosie DiManno of the Toronto Star, “I’m actually enjoying the game more than I did for my entire tenure in Houston. It’s kind of weird to say that because I won a World Series with that team. But it’s like, I just felt trapped there. I didn’t feel like myself there. Overall, I felt out of place.”
Giles also said “the communication was lost” with the Astros and it was something that came easy with the Jays. He said, “When I came here, they stayed patient with me. I said hey, I want to work on this thing till I’m comfortable. All right. OK, I’m comfortable, let’s move on to this next thing. Pitching, you can’t just try to fix everything at once. For me, I had to take baby steps to get my groove back. The Jays allowed me to do that. Yeah, the team was out of contention, but it doesn’t matter. It’s still my career. I still have to prove myself. Them being so patient with me, understanding what I want to do, was very, very big.”
Giles, 28, has two more years of arbitration eligibility remaining. He has shown promise despite his overall mediocre numbers. In non-save situations this season (with both the Astros and Jays), he has a 9.12 ERA. But in save situations, his ERA is a pristine 0.38. Giles could be a closer the Jays find themselves leaning on as they attempt to get back into competitive shape. Since it sounds like Giles is quite enamored with Toronto and with the Blue Jays, a discussion about a contract extension certainly could be had.