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Rays designate Brad Miller for assignment

Two years removed from a 30-homer season, Miller is now out of a job.

MLB: Game Two-Tampa Bay Rays at Baltimore Orioles Photo by Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Rays have designated infielder Brad Miller for assignment, as the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin first reported on Thursday afternoon:

Miller, 28, was actually having a pretty solid season, having posted a .256/.322/.429 slash line with five homers in 174 plate appearances while seeing action at both first and second base. Miller has been a bit inconsistent throughout his career and owns a pedestrian .240/.314/.410 slash line over six big-league seasons, but he’s shown the ability to be an elite power hitter in the past, hitting 30 homers with a 113 OPS+ in 2016. It seems likely that Miller, who has experience at every position besides pitcher and catcher and is adept at filling a utility role, will be a trade candidate, though the Rays obviously reduced their trade leverage quite a bit by DFAing him rather than keeping him around until a deal could be completed.

Miller was let go to make room for 22-year-old first baseman Jake Bauers, who is ranked as the Rays’ No. 5 prospect, the second-best first base prospect in baseball, and the No. 55 prospect in baseball overall by MLB Pipeline. Bauers is expected to get regular starts at first base against right-handed pitchers — which Miller had been getting before Thursday’s move — and he’ll likely get plenty of time as Tampa’s DH as well.

Miller is earning $4.5 million this year, his second season of arbitration eligibility. The Rays will be responsible for the remainder of his salary this season if he isn’t dealt.