Left-handed reliever Pedro Figueroa has been claimed off of waivers by the Tampa Bay Rays, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports on Thursday afternoon. Figueroa will presumably come to Spring Training with a chance at making the team, but he’s hardly a lock for the Rays bullpen in 2014.
The 28 year old spent the bulk of the 2013 season with the Triple-A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics, the only organization he’s known thus far in his career. Figueroa made 46 appearances on the year, posting a 4.10 ERA and 1.517 WHIP across 59.1 IP. It was his second year at the level and hitters seemed to catch up to what he offered on the mound, as Figueroa saw an increased walk rate (5.0 BB/9 from 3.6 BB/9) and a significant spike in the number of home runs he’d allow (1.4 HR/9 from 0.2 HR/9).
He did make five brief appearances with the A’s in 2013, allowing six hits and three walks over three innings of work.
Tampa Bay has had success in recent years converting under-performing relievers into a strong bullpen and Figueroa could potentially end up being another piece in that long run. He’ll likely need to have a very strong Spring Training before he’s given the opportunity at the Major League level, otherwise he’ll be looking at a third go-around at Triple-A (though a move away from the hitter-friendly PCL should help). That’s assuming he’s still with the team for long, however, as Drew Jenkins at Rays Colored Glasses notes. The Rays now have a full 40-man roster with the addition of Figueroa and the team has yet to finalize their free agent deal with first baseman James Loney. Figueroa could be a candidate to be removed in order to make room for Loney, suggesting that the Rays may have claimed him simply with the hopes that they’ll be able to sneak him through waivers before long.