The Rays are finishing up a minor league contract with veteran left-handed reliever Aaron Loup, tweets Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. If and when the deal is completed, the Beverly Hills Sports Council client would head to Major League camp as a non-roster invitee.
Loup, 32, spent the 2019 season in the Padres organization but has spent the vast majority of his eight-year big league career with the Blue Jays. An elbow strain limited him to just 3 1/3 innings with San Diego last season, but Loup holds a lifetime 3.45 ERA with averages of 8.4 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and 0.69 HR/9 to go along with a 54.3 percent ground-ball rate.
Loup has fared considerably better against left-handed opponents in his career, but unlike many traditional lefty specialists, he hasn’t been completely obliterated by hitters holding the platoon advantage. Lefties have managed only a .234/.303/.321 slash against him through 584 plate appearances in the Majors, while righty hitters have put together a .269/.338/.424 slash. It’s certainly more production than one would hope to allow, but Loup isn’t a liability who can only be trusted in left-on-left spots, either.
Tampa Bay isn’t exactly hurting for left-handed depth at the moment, but Loup further deepens what’s already any areas of strength. Ryan Yarbrough is likely to open the 2020 season in the Rays’ rotation, while Jose Alvarado and Colin Poche could be in the Opening Day ’pen. Elsewhere on the 40-man roster are Jalen Beeks, Anthony Banda and top prospect Brendan McKay, although that trio could begin the year as starters in the Triple-A and serve as rotation depth. Loup will join a list of non-roster lefties that also includes former big leaguers Sean Gilmartin and Ryan Sherriff.