Image credit: John Curtiss (Mike Carlson/Getty)
As pitchers and catchers reported across baseball on Wednesday, Feb. 17, one pitcher found he had to drive across Florida to report.
The Rays and Marlins pulled off a swap as righthander John Curtiss was sent to the Marlins in exchange for first baseman Evan Edwards. The move means that Curtiss, a member of the Rays’ bullpen during the playoffs last year, goes from having spring training in Port Charlotte, Fla. on the Gulf Coast to Jupiter, Fla. on Florida’s East Coast.
John Curtiss, RHP
Curtiss has been a well-traveled reliever in recent years. A sixth-round pick of the Twins out of Texas in 2014, Curtiss has been designated for assignment twice, outrighted twice, traded twice and once released after signing a minor league contract.
But he is also coming off his most effective work as a pro. The Rays called him up from the alternate site in early August last year and he quickly established himself as a useful part of the Rays’ bullpen. He was not one of the Rays first arms out of the bullpen, but his effective use of a 93-95 mph fastball and an 84-88 mph slider with plus control made him a reliable option for manager Kevin Cash. He went 3-0, 1.80 with a 3.35 FIP. His 25-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio was excellent. He made nine appearances for the Rays during the postseason including three outings in the World Series.
Curtiss lives in the strike zone and he gave up hard contact in 2020, even if it didn’t lead to many poor results. There’s nothing particularly impressive about the movement of his fastball or slider, but his plus control and the fact that he has one remaining option make him a useful addition to the Marlins bullpen for 2021.
Evan Edwards, 1B
A priority senior sign as the Marlins’ fourth-rounder in 2019 out of North Carolina State, Edwards has solid power potential and a track record of production as a lefty hitter. Edwards reached double digits in home runs in each of his four college seasons, hitting 58 home runs between Spartanburg (S.C.) Methodist, USC Lancaster (S.C.) and NC State. Edwards then went out and hit nine home runs in just 73 games in his pro debut in 2019.
Like almost all other minor leaguers, Edwards did not get to play in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. That means he’ll head into 2021 having yet to play above Low-A.
Edwards moves well at first base and is a solid defender to go with his above-average power potential. He’s a useful addition for a Rays team that is overflowing with up-the-middle defenders but does not have many infield corner power bats in the lower levels of the minor leagues.
The Curtiss move was also important for Tampa Bay because of a crowded 40-man roster. Curtiss’ trade came as the Rays signed righthander reliever Oliver Drake to an MLB deal. Edwards is not on the 40-man roster, so the move created the roster space for the Rays to add Drake.