Rays' Big Move: Jacob Waguespack Selected, Jacob Lopez Optioned - What's Next?

Rays Adjust Pitching Staff Amid Injury and Roster Moves

by Nouman Rasool
Rays' Big Move: Jacob Waguespack Selected, Jacob Lopez Optioned - What's Next?
© Bryan M. Bennett

The Tampa Bay Rays have all but upgraded their squad with a dollop of strategy this season and have in mind the approach for the squad to be pitching-geared to be best-suited amidst the current scores of recoveries and injuries among the team.

The organization has, in turn, sent in the paperwork confirming the promotion of right-hander Jacob Waguespack to the major league team come Friday. This move is contributing to another one to bulk up the pitching staff of the club, as it was done following a pectoral injury of the most promising among them all: Taj Bradley.

The left-hander had an interestingly exciting eight-outing relief on return from Tommy John surgery in April when being transferred to the 60-day injured list to create room for Waguespack on the 40-man roster. In a corresponding move, the Rays reassigned southpaw Jacob Lopez to Triple-A Durham.

Non-roster pitchers Brendan McKay and Michael Gomez were also reassigned to the minor league camp. It also clarifies depth and flexibility in operation across approaches to pitching in 2022. Waguespack, 30, brings with him a wealth of experience both with his two-year stint in Japan, pitching for the Nippon Professional Baseball Orix Buffaloes, in MLB during part of the 2019 and 2020 campaigns with the Toronto Blue Jays mostly in a middle relief role.

This 25-year-old Canadian right-handed player has already proven his worth in Major League Baseball as part of the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team in 2019 and 2020, citing his versatility and the competent capacity to perform at this stage of competition.

Rays' Rotation Reinforcements

After the injury to Taj Bradley added another immediate hole to the Rays' starting five, there were plenty of ways to elect filling. Besides Waguespack and Lopez, the Rays have non-roster righty Naoyuki Uwasawa on tap for rotation spots with backing from swingmen Tyler Alexander and Chris Devenski.

Feeling the need for an extra layer or two of starting depth, Tampa Bay brought Jake Odorizzi in on a minor league deal. Odorizzi, an MLB-tested pitcher, needs time ramping up in the minors before he can possibly fill a vacancy in the Rays rotation towards the middle of the second week this April.

Waguespack being added to the 40-man places him somewhere in between being a leading candidate or a viable candidate for an Opening Day roster spot. While still very much in position to be FAR away from being on the actual Opening Day roster, the inventory set up by the Rays now places him more than anything to make a start or two in the first couple of months of the season.

Good showings might have attached him to a bullpen spot, or if they were strong enough, he might have been locked into a spot with rotation depth at Durham. A series of these roster moves dovetailed with the Rays' commitment to both flexibility and depth as they're set to progress through the rigors of an ML season.