With news of Alex Cobb’s return to the rotation for Tampa Bay, it would appear to be all roses and sunshine for the Rays. However, they had to make room for Cobb on the active roster, and instead of demoting a pitcher, they chose to designate utility man Ryan Roberts for assignment.
This move likely signals the end of Roberts stint in Tampa Bay, and it was one marred by disappointment. After being acquired during the 2012 season, he struggled mightily, finishing with a .214/.284/.364 slash line and 6 home runs in 209 PA’s with the Rays. Things weren’t quite as disastrous during the 2013 season, but Roberts’ rebound to a .247/.295/.377 slash line (.677 OPS) wasn’t enough to keep him on the roster when push came to shove.
At 32 years old, Roberts’ best attribute at this point in his career may be his positional flexibility. He has shown the ability to (somewhat) adequately play second base, third base, and the outfield during his career, and that kind of player can be value, especially in the National League. However, Roberts appears to have peaked during his stint with Arizona, when he produced a .768 OPS with 19 home runs in 2011.
In the short term, this is a clear “upgrade” for the Rays, as they shouldn’t miss Roberts and his production with guys like Kelly Johnson already on the roster. However, for Roberts, he will need to focus on landing a job, and using his recent credentials may not lend credence to the idea of a team bringing him in.