The anticipated Rays’ rebuild began in earnest this afternoon as reliever Brad Boxberger was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for right-handed pitcher Curtis Taylor. Boxberger seems likely to slide into a set-up role for the Diamondbacks.
Boxberger, 29, posted a strong 3.38 ERA over 29.1 innings with supporting peripherals including a solid 3.43 ERA with a 12.3 K/9. Boxberger is a nice replacement for departing free agent Fernando Rodney, and seems likely to fill the eighth inning role behind Archie Bradley this coming season.
Boxberger will join the record breaking arbitration class for the Diamondbacks and will remain under team control through the 2019 season. While there is some risk associated with him, seeing as how he’s only one season removed from posting a 4.81 ERA with a 7.0 BB/9, the fact that he cut the walk rate in half, to a much more palatable 3.4 BB/9 is a bit more encouraging.
As for Curtis Taylor, I would consider him a B- type prospect at this time. He has worked as a starter since being drafted in the fourth round of the 2016 amateur draft, and looks as if he has the ability to remain a starter and slot into a back-end role, however it is believed that he will eventually be moved to a relief role. Taylor could begin the 2018 season in High-A Advanced Charlotte after posting a 3.32 ERA over 62.1 innings pitched last season in Class-A Kane County.
Overall, Taylor is a very large man, standing at 6-foot-6, and brings with him a solid fastball and a plus slider which looks as if it can be a major league out pitch. If Taylor remains in the rotation, he could be called up at some point during the 2020 season, or during the 2019 season as a relief pitcher.
For my initial judgement of the deal, I would say that the Diamondbacks got a better deal, however it’s not a bad deal for the Rays. The Rays didn’t have much leverage in this deal seeing as how they have a very large arbitration class and are known to be looking to shed payroll. Furthermore, the Diamondbacks have one of the lightest farm system in the industry, which may have limited the ceiling for their return potential.
As for the Diamondbacks, they did a very nice job adding an inexpensive relief arm who can be used in a set-up capacity without giving up any of their top prospects. Boxberger should help the Diamondbacks look to improve on their 2017 wild card victory.