In advance of Friday's 8 p.m. EST deadline to protect players from the Rule 5 draft, the Tampa Bay Rays added left-handed pitcher Blake Snell, right-handed pitchers Taylor Guerrieri, Jacob Faria and German Marquez and do-everything guy Taylor Motter to the 40-man roster.
They also designated righties Kirby Yates and Brandon Gomes, catcher J.P. Arencibia and outfielder Daniel Nava for assignment and outrighted injured pitchers Grayson Garvin and Burch Smith off the roster.
Snell was the Rays' breakout prospect of 2015, rocketing up three levels and taking home honors such as Baseball America's Player of the Year. The soon-to-be 23-year-old lefty threw 46 scoreless innings to start the season on his way to a minors-leading 1.41 earned-run average, and his 163 strikeouts in just 134 innings were fourth in the minors.
Guerrieri, who turns 23 next month, has only pitched 206 1/3 innings since being drafted 24th overall in 2011 due to a 50-game drug-of-abuse suspension and Tommy John surgery, but he reached Double A for the first time in 2015. In 36 innings for Montgomery, he posted a 1.50 ERA and 1.00 WHIP with an 18.8% strikeout rate and 5.4% walk rate.
Another member of the Rays' 2011 draft class, Faria, 22, enjoyed a breakout 2015 season. In addition to leading the minors in wins with 17, he posted an ERA of 1.92 for Class A-Advanced Charlotte and Double-A Montgomery and struck out 159 in 149 2/3 innings. In his second start with the Biscuits, he struck out 14 and struck out double digits in two of his final three starts.
The 20-year-old Marquez, one of the youngest players in the Florida State League, owned a 3.56 ERA in a career-best 139 innings pitched, struck out 104 batters and walked just 29. He originally signed with the Rays in 2011.
Motter survived the Rule 5 draft last offseason, but the Rays were not willing to take that chance again. For Durham in 2015, the 26-year-old batted .292 with a .366 on-base percentage and .471 slugging percentage. In addition to his 14 home runs, he slugged 43 doubles, by far a career high. He spent time at all defensive positions besides first base and catcher.
Tampa Bay also had to make several hard decisions to leave some players off the 40-man roster and available in the Rule 5 draft, including players from their 2011 draft class including outfielder Tyler Goeddel, shortstop Jake Hager and righty Jeff Ames.
Hager, 22, missed all of 2015 due to knee surgery. In 2014 with Double-A Montgomery, he batted .271 with a .692 OPS, close to his career numbers of .270 and .696, respectively.
In his first season since moving off the dirt from third base to the outfield, the 23-year-old Goeddel played all three outfield spots and enjoyed a career season at the plate with the Biscuits. He set career bests in average (.279), OBP (.350), SLG (.433) and home runs (12).
Ames, 24, moved to the bullpen after injuries limited him to 34 1/3 innings in 2014. In his new role, he struck out 62 in 66 2/3 innings between Charlotte and Montgomery.
Also unprotected is lefty Jonny Venters. The former All-Star signed a two-year minor league deal with the Rays in March as he works his way back from injury. He has not pitched in the majors since 2012.
While Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi and Mike Montgomery have all reached the majors, Patrick Leonard, the fourth player the Rays acquired in the big James Shields trade of 2012, has not, and he was not added to the 40-man roster. With Goeddel's move to the outfield, the 23-year-old moved from first base back to the hot corner with Montgomery. He batted .256 with a .350 OBP and .408 SLG with 10 homers and 32 doubles.
After struggling in 2014, outfielder Joey Rickard, 24, played for three levels like Snell. He batted .321 with a .427 OBP and .447 SLG with 23 steals in 29 attempts and 38 extra-base hits.
Around the league, Seattle added former Rays prospect Boog Powell to its 40-man roster, which is not a surprise after the Mariners acquired him in the recent six-player trade with Tampa Bay. To make room for him, they designated left-handed pitcher Danny Hultzen for assignment. He was drafted second overall in 2011 ahead of other top-10 picks like Trevor Bauer, Anthony Rendon and Francisco Lindor.