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Rays working on deal with reliever Phil Maton

ST. PETERSBURG — Rays officials were in talks Saturday trying to sign veteran reliever Phil Maton to a major-league deal.

The 30-year-old right-hander is coming off a strong season with Houston, going 4-3, 3.00 with one save in 66 innings over 68 games. He is known for getting soft contact, ranking among the majors’ best in 2023, and posting high spin rates for both his curveball and fastball, which averages 89 mph.

Maton has pitched parts of seven seasons in the majors. He had a 4.71 ERA from 2017-2021 with San Diego, Cleveland and Houston (where he was traded at the 2021 deadline). He improved appreciably in his last two full seasons with the Astros, posting a 3.42 ERA, .222 opponents’ average and 26.5% strikeout rate.

Maton’s younger brother, Nick, is an infielder with the Tigers.

If the Rays complete the deal, they will have to create space on their currently full 40-man roster.

Maton would join a bullpen that seemed to be set with closer Pete Fairbanks joined by right-handers Jason Adam, Shawn Armstrong, Chris Devenski and Kevin Kelly, plus lefties Tyler Alexander (acquired from Detroit), Garrett Cleavinger (back from knee surgery) and Colin Poche.

There has been talk of stretching out Alexander and Devenski during spring training to see if one or both could be used as a starter or multi-inning opener.

Since the end of last season, the Rays lost two experienced right-handed relievers, allowing Robert Stephenson to leave as a free agent ($33 million over three years from Angels) and trading Andrew Kittredge (to St. Louis for outfielder Richie Palacios). They also parted ways with Cooper Criswell, Calvin Faucher and lefties Jalen Beeks, Jake Diekman and Josh Fleming.

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