Rays starter to undergo season-ending surgery
Tampa Bay Rays starter Drew Rasmussen Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay Rays right-hander Drew Rasmussen is set to undergo an internal brace surgery that will end his 2023 season, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Rasmussen has been out with a flexor strain since mid-May, though the club initially hoped he could return this summer. Topkin additionally relays that the 27-year-old hurler is now expected to be sidelined until at least midway through the 2024 campaign.

The news is yet another blow to a Rays rotation that just lost left-hander Shane McClanahan to the injured list at the end of June. Rasmussen will now join left-hander Jeffrey Springs, who underwent Tommy John surgery back in April, in missing the remainder of the 2023 season. The Rays are currently leaning on a rotation of Tyler Glasnow, Taj Bradley, Zach Eflin and Yonny Chirinos as they await McClanahan’s return from the IL. While that’s a solid group, one which has combined for a 3.99 in 252 1/3 innings this season, it’s hard to deny to that both Rasmussen (2.62 ERA in eight starts) and Springs (0.56 ERA in three starts) would be major upgrades to the current group if healthy.

News that Tampa will be without Rasmussen for the rest of the season comes just three weeks before the August 1 trade deadline. The Rays are the top team in the AL with a 57-34 record, even as they’ve yet to be able to field their five best starters at the same time for a single turn through the rotation this season.  Still, without Rasmussen to help bolster the pitching staff down the stretch and into the playoffs, the club’s already-acknowledged need to add pitching in the coming weeks is only intensified.

Of course, the market for starting pitchers is always a competitive one and GM Peter Bendix previously indicated the club was unlikely to participate in a bidding war for the most highly sought-after hurlers. While it’s possible the recent news on Rasmussen has increased the club’s urgency to make impactful additions, the Rays may still prefer to stick to less sought-after options like Jack Flaherty or Michael Lorenzen, rather than pursue top-of-the-market arms like Lucas Giolito.

Looking beyond the 2023 campaign, the Rays are currently set to enter the 2024 season without the services of either Rasmussen or Springs. Glasnow, McClanahan, Bradley, Eflin and Chirinos are all controlled through at least 2024, giving them a plausible Opening Day rotation still under contract. But with minimal depth outside of that group, it would hardly be a surprise if the club pursued additional starting depth during the coming offseason – that is, unless they add an arm with multiple years of control this summer.

This article first appeared on MLB Trade Rumors and was syndicated with permission.

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