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Rays acquire reliever Manuel Rodriguez, International Bonus Pool space from Cubs in three-player deal

Manny Rodriguez is currently not on the 40-man roster, but played in the majors in 2021 & 2022.

MLB: Colorado Rockies at Chicago Cubs David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The Rays made a minor move today ahead of the 6 PM trade deadline to bolster the reliever depth, picking up 26-year old reliever Manny Rodriguez, while also acquiring international bonus pool money in exchange for Triple-A RP Josh Roberson.

To facilitate the deal, the Rays will pay the remaining salary on Cubs starter Adrian Sampson, who per MLBTR has $633k remaining on his contract this year.

Among these names, Manuel Rodríguez is the piece that is interesting.

The 26 year old RH reliever is currently at Triple-A, despite making appearances at the MLB level in the previous two seasons (totaling 31.1 IP). While down there he has posted a 32.7% K rate with a 10.7% walk rate in 38 innings this season — and those numbers have been trending in the right direction, with Rodriguez boasting a 41% K-rate and 3% BB-rate over the last two months.

Overall, Rodriguez has the 4th highest whiff% in Triple-A among pitchers with at least 30 IP and boasts a 58% ground rate in Triple-A. Coupled with his previous major league experience, and he has a clear place on the MLB depth chart, even if he’s not currently on a 40-man roster.

Adrian Sampson, the other name acquired, is a 31 year old RHP who has made 19 starts in 2022 to a tune of 3.11 ERA, 17.1% K rate and a 6.3% walk rate. In 2023, Sampson has spent his time at AAA and on the IL with a meniscal debridement procedure on his right knee that sidelined him in May. Since then, he has a 10.17 ERA in 23 IP at AAA and thereby may not even be retained by the Rays post-acquisition.

Should the Rays choose to stash him in the minors, Sampson has 5 pitches, but mainly only throws 4 of them: a 92 MPH 4-seam, a sinker that averages at about 90 MPH with 20 inches of vertical movement, a slider, and a changeup. They could also just as easily let him go.

For those two pitchers and the international bonus pool money, Rays gave up RHP Josh Roberson, who was originally picked up as the PTBNL in the deal that sent Louis Head to Miami in 2021. He’s not dissimilar to Rodriguez as a Triple-A pitcher, but he doesn’t have the same present whiff rates the Rays are clearly valuing.

The Trade deadline ends tonight at 6:00 PM EST.