Left-handed relief help is always a hot commodity and another arm has changed hands, as the Tampa Bay Rays have acquired Wesley Wright from the Houston Astros. The Rays placed a claim on Wright once he hit the waiver wire and were able to work out a deal with Houston in which the Astros will receive cash considerations instead of a player. Wright had been the longest tenured member of the Astros active roster, having joined the organization via the Rule 5 Draft prior to the 2007 season.
Wright had posted a 3.92 ERA and 1.476 WHIP in 41.1 IP with the Astros. He holds a 4.44 ERA, 1.427 WHIP, 4.1 BB/9, and 9.0 K/9 across 239.0 IP for his career – steady but hardly impressive numbers. He was earning just over $1 Million on the year, leaving Erik Bedard as the lone remaining player on the Astros roster earning more than a million dollars.
For the Rays the move is hardly a head-scratcher. Tampa Bay has relied mainly on a pair of left-handers this season, but with Jake McGee filling the setup role and Cesar Ramos adjusting to more of a long relief option, there was room for another southpaw in the bullpen with the team aiming at a run for the playoffs. Wright may not be the toughest arm against lefty batters, particularly as the Astros have utilized him this season, but he hardly costs Tampa Bay a thing to acquire. Robbie Knopf at Rays Colored Glasses notes that Wright will be under team control for two more seasons through arbitration, an added benefit given how frugally the Rays are when it comes to building their bullpens.
Houston’s motives for moving Wright remain unclear, as Tyler Stafford points out at Climbing Tal’s Hill. Wright hardly is earning much and the Astros are not in financial trouble. What purpose does the deal ultimately serve when the fiscal savings aren’t needed and the team isn’t receiving any talent in return? From Stafford:
The Astros are not strapped for cash. I don’t think there is a single person in the world who would argue that point with me. So why would Luhnow trade a valuable(ish) reliever, someone who apparently garnered trade interest just weeks ago, for money? ….. The Astros don’t need cash. They need talent. Wesley Wright may or may not have been the talent they need, but he certainly could have stayed on the team for the money he was making this year.
Wright is far from the game’s top left-handed relievers, but he should be serviceable to the Rays at a minimal cost. Even if he fails to produce over the season’s final six weeks the risk on Tampa Bay’s part is minimal at best. Houston will be able to evaluate one more arm in these last few weeks, as they already look ahead to 2014.