Jose Lobaton is the gift that keeps on giving. Despite never actually appearing in a game for the Tampa Bay Rays (was called up to active roster, but did not enter a game), Lobaton is having an impact on the Rays’ 2010 season in other ways.
A few weeks ago, I went in-depth on the playoff roster exemption the Rays created when they called up Lobaton on August 31 and immediately placed him on the major league disabled list.
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.
At that time, it seemed safe to assume Lobaton’s season was over and he would enjoy his 40-man roster salary as he watched the playoffs from a far. However, on September 14th, Lobaton appeared on the transaction page once again.
With the Durham Bulls preparing to play for the International League Championship, they would receive some additional help in the form of Lobaton – who hit .261/.337/.394 in 292 plate appearances for the club in 2010. However, the Rays did not activate and option him. Instead, they sent the 25-year-old catcher on a minor league rehab assignment* to Durham.
*For those unfamiliar with rehab assignments, a team can send a player on the MLB disabled list to a minor league affiliate of their choice to rehab in games before activating them from the DL. They can send a position player on assignment for a maximum of 20 days and 30 days for a pitcher.
Lobaton appeared in three games for the Bulls – including one start behind the plate and one as the designated hitter. He went 2-6 as the Bulls lost in four games to the Columbus Clippers. Because the Bulls season ended just four days after his rehab started, the Rays were not obligated to activate him off the DL.
In summation, the Rays recalled Lobaton on August 31 and placed him on the DL which created a playoff roster exemption for a position player called up after rosters expanded on September 1. Then they sent him on rehab assignment to the team he was with for most of the season as they played for a championship. Now, Lobaton sits on the disabled list once again keeping the exemption alive for Desmond Jennings or Rocco Baldelli.
In the grand scheme of things it doesn’t mean much, but alas just another interesting series of moves by the Rays’ front office.