By Tommy Rancel
Fellow Process Report-er R.J. Anderson and I were discussing Jose Lobaton’s call-up last night. The Rays recalled Lobaton – already on the minor league disabled list and 40 man roster – and immediately place him on the major league DL. The obvious reasoning behind the move was to create another playoff roster exemption, but the timing did not quite match up.
As noted in previous posts, the Rays can request a playoff roster exemption for any player who was on the major league disabled list prior to midnight on August 31. The Rays used this rule once before in 2008. On 8/31/08, the Rays recalled Jae Kuk Ryu and placed him on the disabled list. The team then called up David Price on 9/13/08 and were granted an exemption which allowed Price to be included on the playoff roster. We know how well that worked out.
Back to our conversation…I was under the assumption the Rays had pulled a "Jae Kuk Ryu" with Lobaton – meaning they would have an additional playoff exemption available. However, as R.J. pointed out, we did not hear about the Lobaton move until September 1. The only move mentioned on August 31 was the Brad Hawpe/Andy Sonnanstine swap. If this was really the case, the Rays would not gain an additional spot.
By now, we know the Rays do not make moves just to make them. Had they called up Lobaton on September 1 just to place him on the DL, it would have been a wasted move. After some investigation, we learned that the Rays indeed recalled Lobaton on late Tuesday (8/31), and transferred from the minor league DL to the major league one. Because he was place on the DL so quickly, no corresponding move was needed and the Rays can request an exemption for Lobaton. Whether it be used for Desmond Jennings, Rocco Baldelli, another player, or used at all is to be determined, but it is there for them if needed.
With Lobaton, J.P. Howell, and Gabe Kapler on the DL, the Rays currently have three exemptions at their disposal. Since these are by position, the Rays could add two position players (assuming neither Kapler or Lobaton is activated) and one pitcher to the playoff roster from the group called up after August 31.
The Rays are not the first team to use the DL trick, nor are they likely to be the only ones requesting exemptions this year. That said, it is another interesting look into the process behind the organization’s roster moves.