Rays Trade JP Feyereisen To Dodgers

10:18am: The Rays are receiving minor league lefty Jeff Belgian in the trade, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

10:10 am: The Dodgers and Rays have agreed to a trade sending right-hander JP Feyereisen from Tampa Bay to Los Angeles, reports ESPN’s Jeff Passan (Twitter link). The Rays will receive a minor league pitcher in exchange for Feyereisen, who underwent shoulder surgery last week and is expected to be sidelined into late August. The Rays designated Feyereisen for assignment yesterday to make roster space for newly signed Zach Eflin.

It’s a long-term play for the Dodgers, as Feyereisen is still controllable through the 2026 season via arbitration. The Rays would surely have loved to keep Feyereisen until this spring, when they could place him on the 60-day injured list and free up his 40-man roster spot. However, Tampa Bay also has righties Shane Baz and Andrew Kittredge recovering from Tommy John surgery and in need of 60-day IL spots when camp opens. As such, carrying all three until Spring Training would’ve effectively ascended to Tampa Bay operating with a 37-man roster instead of a 40-man roster for the balance of the offseason.

Feyereisen’s DFA raised plenty of eyebrows yesterday, as the right-hander rattled off 24 1/3 scoreless innings for the Rays in 2022 before being shelved by the shoulder injury that eventually led to the recent operation to repair both his right rotator cuff and labrum. A year prior, Feyereisen had turned in 56 innings of 2.73 ERA ball, albeit with a bloated 14.1% walk rate that created some skepticism about his ability to sustain that pace.

The now-29-year-old righty (30 in February) not only improved his command in 2022 but sent his walk rate plummeting to 5.8% — a mark that’s leaps and bounds better than league average. All told, Feyereisen has 89 2/3 innings of experience at the big league level and has pitched to a 2.31 ERA with a 23.8% strikeout rate and 12% walk rate. However, if he can sustain any of the 2022 strides he made in terms of strikeout rate (29.1%) or walk rate, he has the potential to be a vital late-inning arm for the Dodgers for three-plus seasons. And, because he’s unlikely to pitch much this season, his first trip through the arbitration process next winter shouldn’t produce a particularly large salary.

Belge, 25, was the Dodgers’ 18th-round pick in 2019 and spent the 2022 season pitching for their High-A affiliate, where he logged a 3.66 ERA in 32 innings and fanned a whopping 36.7% of his opponents — albeit against a concern 12.5% ​​walking rate. Belge was older than the average competition in the Midwest League in 2022 — his second stint at that level — but has drawn praise from FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen for a 96 mph heater and above-average slider.

The Dodgers have a trio of open spots on the 40-man roster, so it’s far easier for them to roster Feyereisen for the time being, even if he’ll now bump them up to 38. They’ll part ways with a hard- throwing lefty who has a penchant for missing bats and could begin the 2023 season in Double-A. By the time 2024 rolls around, it’s possible that both Feyereisen and Belge are ready for work in their respective teams’ big league bullpens, though Belge is far from a sure thing given his shaky command and a history of eye troubles dating back to a freak injury in his childhood days.

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