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Rays sign Dustin McGowan to minor-league deal

The veteran long reliever will compete for a spot in Tampa’s bullpen.

Atlanta Braves v Miami Marlins Photo by Rob Foldy/Miami Marlins via Getty Images

The Rays have signed right-handed reliever Dustin McGowan to a minor-league contract with an invitation to major-league spring training, as the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin first reported on Friday evening.

McGowan, 35, began his major-league career as a starter for the Blue Jays, but over the past five seasons he’s repurposed himself as a reliever capable of making multi-inning appearances and saving the bullpen when cast into mop-up duty. He posted a 4.75 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP with 64 strikeouts and 27 walks over 63 appearances (77.2 innings) for the Marlins in 2017. If McGowan can bounce back to the form he displayed in 2016, when he had an outstanding 2.82 ERA and 1.22 WHIP over 55 appearances out of Miami’s bullpen, he could be a great value pickup by the Rays.

McGowan is Tampa’s second bullpen addition of the day, following Sergio Romo, who rejoined the Rays on a one-year deal earlier Friday. He’s the latest pitcher to join a list of Rays non-roster invitees that already includes two pitchers with extensive big-league experience in Vidal Nuno and Jonny Venters. Romo, Dan Jennings, and closer Alex Colome are the only Rays relievers that seem to have roster spots locked down heading into spring training, so McGowan and his fellow non-roster invitees will compete with 40-man roster members such as Jose Alvarado, Chih-Wei Hu, Andrew Kittredge, Chaz Roe, Ryne Stank for four or five open spots in Tampa’s ‘pen.