Tampa Bay Rays: Shaffer, Motter Traded to Seattle; DFA Geltz

The Tampa Bay Rays add eight to the 40-man roster with several roster moves prior to Friday night’s deadline to protect prospects from next month’s Rule 5 Draft.

Creativity is what the Tampa Bay Rays did in order to open up spots on their 40-man roster and they began by trading Richie Shaffer and Taylor Motter to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for three minor-leaguers. They also designated Steve Geltz for assignment and released John Lamb who they acquired earlier this month from the Cincinnati Reds.

With the roster moves, the Tampa Bay Rays added eight prospects to their 40-man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 draft: INF Willy Adames, LHP Jose Alvarado, RHP Chih-Wei Hu, INF Daniel Robertson, RHP Austin Pruitt, RHP Jaime Schultz, RHP Ryne Stanek, and RHP Hunter Wood.

In return for Shaffer and Motter, the Rays receive Dalton Kelly (1B) and right-handed pitchers Andrew Kittredge and Dylan Thompson. Kelly and Thompson are still in the lower step of the minor-league ladder, but Kittredge has experience pitching in Triple-A.

There were high hopes for Shaffer who was the Tampa Bay Rays first-round pick (25th overall) of the 2012 MLB Draft; unfortunately, his minor league production .243/.338/.445 with 30 homers in 188 games did not follow him to the major leagues.

Given the opportunity during parts of the 2015 and 2016 seasons, Shaffer hit .213/.310/.410 with five homers and 10 RBI in 142 at-bats over 51 games.

Motter made his major league debut with the Rays this past season hitting .188/.290/.300 with two home runs and nine RBIs in 93 plate appearances while playing at all four infield positions and both outfield corners. However, his success at the plate in the minors .266/.338/.437 with 27 homers and 45 steals in parts of two seasons at Triple-A Durham (215 games) did not make it the Rays.

The writing on the wall for Motter’s trade may have been made in September when the rosters expanded, as he was not recalled. At the time, there was speculation of performance and attitude issues.

After having a super season in 2015 in which he appeared in 70 games, Geltz was designated for assignment. A uninspiring 2016 from Geltz in which he was 0-2, with a 5.74 ERA in 26.2 innings and allowing 11 home runs had been up and down with Triple-A Durham throughout the season.

Lamb, acquired from the Cincinnati Reds for cash considerations on November 2, was released outright. In 14 starts for the Reds last season, he went 1-7 with a 6.43 ERA. He has made 24 MLB starts over the past two seasons and owns a 6.17 career ERA.

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Kelly, 22, reached base safely in 112 of 130 games with Clinton in 2016, batting .293 with 70 runs scored, 30 doubles, 4 triples, 7 home runs, 58 RBI, 11 HBP, 63 walks and 21 stolen bases.

In two minor league seasons in the Mariners organization, he batted .281 with 93 runs scored, 33 doubles, 8 triples, 7 home runs and 69 RBI in 161 games. He was a 38th-round pick by Seattle in 2015 MLB Draft.

Kittredge, 26, went 3-3 with 7 saves and a 3.50 ERA (28 ER, 72.0 IP) in 37 games/5 starts combined between Double-A Jackson and Triple-A Tacoma in 2016. The right-handed reliever limited opponents to a .268 average, while walking 19 and striking out 84. The Spokane, WA native, Kittredge attended the University of Washington from 2009-11 and signed with Seattle as a non-drafted free agent on August 21, 2011. In 6 seasons in the minor leagues for the Mariners, Kittredge went 16-12 with 17 saves and a 4.49 ERA (171 ER, 342.2 IP) in 186 games/9 starts.

Thompson, 22, appeared in only three games/1 start with Rookie Arizona League Mariners in 2016 due to injuries. He was originally selected by the Mariners in the fourth-round of the 2015 MLB First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Minnesota. In his professional debut in 2015, he with 2-1 with a 2.36 ERA (7 ER, 26.2 IP) in nine games/5 starts with the Mariners in the Arizona League.

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Thompson was rated as the Mariners’ No. 22 prospect, according to MLB.com, whose scouting report gives the former fourth-round pick (No. 125 overall, 2015) a chance to develop three average-or-better offerings.

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