By JOSH VITALE, SunCoast Sports
PORT CHARLOTTE — The Tampa Bay Rays traded outfielder Matt Joyce to the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for right-handed reliever Kevin Jepsen, the team announced today.
The Rays also announced that closer Jake McGee underwent arthroscopic elbow surgery on Friday and will begin the 2015 season on the disabled list. The surgery, which was done to remove “loose bodies” in McGee’s elbow, is similar to the surgery former Ray Jeremy Hellickson underwent last January.
Hellickson’s surgery kept him sidelined until July. The Rays said there is no timetable yet for McGee, but McGee told reporters on Tuesday that he expects to be ready to return in late April or early May.
Joyce, who hit .254 with nine home runs and 52 RBIs last year, was expendable due to his rising salary and cemented role as a platoon player in an outfield that already features Wil Myers, Desmond Jennings, Kevin Kiermaier and David DeJesus. Joyce told Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune that he expects to play both corner outfield spots and perhaps some backup first base in Los Angeles.
Jepsen, 30, compiled a career-best 2.63 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 65 innings for the Angels last season. He’ll join a retooled bullpen that, even without McGee, will start the year with returnee Brad Boxberger and newcomers Ernesto Frieri (former Angel and Pirate signed in free agency) and Jose Domingiuez (acquired in trade with Dodgers), as well as former closer Grant Balfour.
“Matt was an important part of this team for the last six seasons. We appreciate his many contributions to the Rays on the field, and the professionalism he brought to the ballpark,” vice president of baseball operations Erik Neander said in a statement. “We’re excited about the experience Kevin brings to the bullpen, and his ability to pitch in key moments of the game.”
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