ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays stepped up the process of clearing space on their 40-man roster by placing six players on outright waivers, including three — catcher Christian Bethancourt and left-handed pitchers Jalen Beeks and Josh Fleming — who at times played key roles for them.
Infielder Tristan Gray, outfielder Raimel Tapia and reliever Cole Sulser were the others.
Players who are not claimed on outright waivers (for the $50,000 fee) typically become free agents, though they can be re-signed to minor- or major-league deals. The waiver period ends Monday.
The Rays need space, as they have seven players on the 60-day injured list who have to be reinstated by Monday. Plus, shortstop Wander Franco was added back to the roster though his status remains uncertain pending investigations into allegations of inappropriate relationships with minors.
With relievers Chris Devenski, Jake Diekman and Robert Stephenson now free agents and Franco back (in a procedural move), the Rays have 37 players on their roster. Of the six on waivers, all but Gray are among the 16 Rays eligible for arbitration.
Bethancourt, acquired in July 2022, was the primary catcher this season, starting 89 games, but struggled at the plate, hitting .226 with a .635 OPS, and lost the job to Rene Pinto.
Beeks split the season between the majors and Triple-A Durham, going 2-3 with a 5.95 ERA in 30 games over five stints with the Rays. Acquired in a July 2018 trade with Boston (for Nate Eovaldi), Beeks appeared in 129 games while missing part of 2020 and all of 2021 recovering from Tommy John elbow surgery.
Fleming made the opening-day roster and pitched regularly through May, going 1-0 with a 4.62 ERA, but spent most of the rest of the season on the injured list or at Durham.
Gray and Tapia were September call-ups who saw minimal action. Sulser was an August waiver pickup who pitched only at Durham.
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