The Tampa Bay Rays have acquired veteran southpaw Dan Jennings from the Chicago White Sox in exchange for first baseman Casey Gillaspie, the Rays first round draft pick in 2013. The Rays have also announced they have designated Diego Moreno for assignment. The corresponding move to add Jennings to the active roster has yet to be announced.
Jennings, 30, will remain under team control through the 2019 season. Dating back to August 1, 2015, he ranks third among AL relievers (min. 100 IP) with a 2.33 ERA (127.2-IP, 33-ER), trailing Zach Britton (1.41) of the Orioles and Andrew Miller (1.65) of the Yankees and Indians.
He is a major league veteran of six seasons, making his major league debut with the Miami Marlins back in 2012. Originally a 9th round selection in the 2008 draft, Jennings was with the Marlins organization until being dealt during the 2014-2015 off-season to the Chicago White Sox.
Thus far in 2017, Jennings has been dominant against left-handed batters, holding them to a slash of .164/.286/.211. Control at times has been problematic for him, walking opposing hitters around 10% of the time over his career, but nonetheless, he’ll certainly be an effective weapon for Kevin Cash to look to late in ballgames.
Jennings is capable of pitching multiple innings, and his 48 appearances on the season are the most among American League lefties and are tied for second among all AL relievers, one shy of the Indians’ Bryan Shaw, per the team press release, which also noted the following statistics:
In his three seasons with the White Sox, lefties have hit just .225 (56-for-249) against him. Over that same stretch, his 23 GIDP rank second among AL relief pitchers behind Shaw (26). His ground ball rate this season is 58.5 percent, according to FanGraphs, which ranks sixth in the AL (min. 40 IP).
Jennings will make his debut in the Yankees series, which begins tonight, wearing the No. 43.
Casey Gillaspie, the Rays 2013 first round pick (20th overall), showed glimpses of star potential during his rise through the Rays system, ranked by Baseball America as the Rays 3rd top prospect following the 2016 season. However, he seemed to hit a roadblock this year in Triple-A as he has an OPS of .653 through 93 games played this season, while facing stiff competition from 1B/OF Jake Bauers for making the Rays roster in 2018.
Here’s the Rays press release on the departing Gillaspie:
Gillaspie, 24, hit .227/.296/.357 (80-for-353) with nine home runs and 44 RBI in 95 games with Triple-A Durham this season. Last year, he led Rays minor leaguers with 18 home runs, ranked fourth with 64 RBI and was named the Minor League Player of the Year by the club’s Baseball Operations department. He entered this season ranked by Baseball America as the Best Power Hitter and Best Strike-Zone Judgment in the organization. In their midseason update, he was ranked by MLB.com as the No. 10 prospect in the Rays organization. Casey is the younger brother of Conor Gillaspie, who is currently on the active roster of the San Francisco Giants and spent parts of three seasons in the majors with the White Sox.
Despite the addition of Jennings, the Tampa Bay Rays are reportedly still looking for more additions to help strengthen the bullpen, and still have plenty of prospects to deal.