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Rays acquire minor league pitchers Sampson and Rodríguez in a trade with the Cubs

Chicago Cubs Adrian Sampson - The Canadian Press

NEW YORK (AP) — The Tampa Bay Rays feel they were winners at the trade deadline.

With right-handed starter Aaron Civale already set to join a strong rotation, the Rays focused Tuesday on improving pitching depth and landing a catcher they believe can help if needed as Tampa Bay tries to chase down American League East-leading Baltimore.

Civale, 28, was acquired from the Cleveland Guardians on Wednesday and has been pitching well, going 4-1 with a 2.24 ERA over his past 11 starts. He's earning $2.6 million this year, and the budget-minded Rays like that he'll remain under contract to them through 2025.

“I'm super excited for the opportunity,” Civale said during a Zoom call. “The Rays are one of the best teams in baseball. They do things right. I've heard nothing but great things about how things are done over there, so I'm excited to jump right in.”

General manager Peter Bendix also felt good about acquiring minor league pitchers Adrian Sampson and Manuel Rodríguez in a trade with the Chicago Cubs and later dealing a pitching prospect to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for catcher Alex Jackson.

“It was a very successful deadline in our estimation. We were able to add several guys that we think are going to be really helpful,” Bendix said.

“You look around the league, there were very, very few starting pitchers with control beyond this year who were moved,” the GM added. “We were very happy that we were able to get one of those.”

The move to add Sampson and Rodriguez to the organization improves Tampa Bay's pitching depth, particularly in the bullpen where the club thinks Rodriguez could help down the stretch.

Sampson is 11-19 with a 4.43 ERA in 72 major league appearances, including 44 starts, while Rodríguez is 5-3 with a 4.88 ERA and five saves in 34 big league games.

The Rays later sent minor league pitcher Evan McKendry to the Brewers for Jackson, a 27-year-old who has hit .141 with three homers and 12 RBIs over 163 major league at-bats with Atlanta, Miami and Milwaukee.

“He's a well-rounded catcher, does a lot of things well,” Bendix said of Jackson, who'll be assigned to Durham. “That's a hard thing to find, especially with the kind of experience he has.”

Tampa Bay also traded right-hander Luis Patiño, who is 7-5 with a 5.23 ERA in 38 games over portions of four seasons with the Padres and Rays, to the Chicago White Sox for cash.

In addition to Sampson and Rodríguez, the Rays received international signing bonus pool space from the Cubs for minor league right-hander Josh Roberson. The 27-year-old Roberson, a 12th-round pick in the 2017 amateur draft, went 2-1 with a 4.50 ERA in 31 appearances for Triple-A Durham this year.

McKendry, meanwhile, is a 25-year-old right-hander who was 8-3 with a 4.00 ERA in 15 starts for Durham this year.

Sampson, 31, recently returned to the mound after being sidelined by a meniscus injury. He went 4-5 with a 3.11 ERA in 21 games with Chicago last year, including a career-high 19 starts.

Rodríguez, who turns 27 on Sunday, made his big league debut with the Cubs in 2021. He went 2-0 with a 3.29 ERA and four saves in 14 games with Chicago last season.