HomeMLB RumorsRays Option Junior Caminero - MLB Trade Rumors

Rays Option Junior Caminero – MLB Trade Rumors

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The Rays optioned top infield prospect Junior Caminero to Triple-A Durham among their camp cuts this afternoon, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. That takes him out of the mix for an Opening Day roster spot.

Caminero always seemed like a long shot to secure a season-opening big league job. The Rays promoted the 20-year-old directly from Double-A last September. Caminero played in seven regular season games and was available off the bench for the team’s Wild Card series against the Rangers. While that at least put him on the radar for a potential Opening Day spot, the likelier outcome has been that he’d head to Durham for the first time.

Tampa Bay added a pair of shortstops over the winter. Trade pickup José Caballero will get the starting nod, while the Rays took a $1.5MM flier on Amed Rosario as a right-handed hitter who can bounce around the diamond. Isaac Paredes should get the majority of the third base reps with Yandy Díaz at the opposite corner. Curtis Mead is another righty bat who can move around the infield. Mead isn’t yet established at the MLB level but turned in an excellent .294/.385/.515 slash line over 61 Triple-A contests a year ago.

While Caminero is light on upper level experience, he has destroyed opposing pitching through Double-A. The right-handed hitter owns a .316/.383/.555 mark in three minor league campaigns, including a .324/.384/.591 line between High-A and Double-A a year ago. Baseball America, FanGraphs, The Athletic’s Keith Law and ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel all rank him among the sport’s five most talented prospects.

Caminero has experience at all four infield positions. Most scouting reports indicate he’s best suited for third base. That may eventually lead the Rays to consider trade possibilities with Paredes, whom they control via arbitration for another four seasons. That’s not something with which they’ll need to concern themselves before Opening Day.

The minor league assignment is likely to have an impact on Caminero’s service trajectory. He accrued 10 days of MLB service after his September promotion. Caminero would need to be on the MLB roster for 162 days if he’s to surpass the one-year threshold in 2024. Spending more than a few weeks in Durham would prevent him from reaching that mark (unless he plays his way into a full service year with a top-two finish in Rookie of the Year balloting). That’s not an indication the Rays are gaming Caminero’s service time — there’s clearly legitimate developmental reason to get him time in Triple-A — but it’s a notable effect all the same.

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