Rays Acquire Chad Qualls for PTNBL

The Tampa Bay Rays acquired Diamondbacks reliever Chad Qualls for a player to be named later. It was Tampa’s only pre-deadline trade, and one in a string of moves for Arizona. The Rays will cover all $1.48 million of Qualls’ salary, and his contract expires after the season.

He has an 8.29 ERA, but that’s largely driven by a ridiculous .434 BABIP. Qualls is having his worst season since 2006 according to xFIP, however, with a 3.84 mark. He’s been worth just 0.1 WAR this year, making him a poor bet to be worth the money he’s being paid the rest of the way, let alone a player to be named later.

Strictly a two-pitch, sinker-slider pitcher, Qualls throws his 90-95 mph sinker about 2/3 of the time. He’s always gotten tons of grounders, and while he’s having a down season in that regard, he still has a healthy 55% grounder rate. His 3.55 walks per nine is easily a career high and nearly triple last year’s total, as his command of both his pitches has slipped. He’s also developed a homer problem in spite of the groundballs–on the rare occasion he does leave the ball up, it gets crushed.

Qualls certainly isn’t that big of a difference-maker, but the Rays are in a position where every extra run prevented counts. Qualls, however, is a poor matchup against the rival Yankees, as he struggles against lefthanders due to his lack of a changeup. He has a 5.70 FIP against them this year, as opposed to 3.16 against righties. He actually used to do a better job against lefties, but he’s lost confidence in the ability to command his slider to them, so he’s throwing almost exclusively sinkers to them. With his command of that pitch regressing as well, it’s been rather nightmarish.

Qualls is a reasonable guy to look at, but you wonder if the Rays wouldn’t have been better off just saving money and looking at R.J. Swindle and/or Winston Abreu, who’ve both dominated in Triple-A.

Arizona should be happy to move his salary, but if you though their bullpen was bad before…

Tags: Arizona Diamondbacks Chad Qualls Tampa Bay Rays

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