The Red Sox have claimed right-hander Easton McGee off waivers from the Rays, the club announced Wednesday afternoon. They did not need to make a corresponding move since they had a vacancy on their 40-man roster.
McGee, 24, was designated for assignment by the Rays on Monday after making his major-league debut against the Astros on Sunday. The native Kentuckian allowed one unearned run on four hits and zero walks to go along with one strikeout over three innings of relief in a losing effort at Minute Maid Park.
Despite that relatively strong performance, McGee lost his spot on Tampa Bay’s 40-man roster when fellow righty Kevin Herget had his contract selected from Triple-A Durham earlier this week. Herget has since been designated for assignment himself.
The Rays originally selected McGee in the fourth round of the 2016 amateur draft out of Hopkinsville High School. He forwent his commitment to the University of Kentucky by signing with Tampa Bay for $673,700. At that time, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom served as the Rays’ vice president of baseball operations, so there could be a connection there.
Before debuting for the Rays on Monday, McGee had spent the entirety of the 2022 minor-league season with Durham. In 27 appearances (22 starts) for the Bulls, he posted a 5.43 ERA and 5.72 FIP with 82 strikeouts to 20 walks across 107 2/3 innings of work. His 4.3% walk rate ranked second among International League pitchers who accrued at least 100 innings this year, per FanGraphs.
In a “Best Scouting Tools” survey conducted by Baseball America in late August, McGee was recognized by Triple-A managers for having the best control in the International League.
Listed at 6-foot-6 and 205 pounds, McGee works with a slider, a sinker, a cutter, a changeup, a curveball, and a four-seam fastball. Against the Astros on Sunday, he induced all three of his swings-and-misses with his slider — a pitch he threw 19 times — and topped out at 93.9 mph with his sinker — a pitch he threw 15 times.
McGee, who turns 25 in December, comes with club control since he has three minor-league option years remaining. It should be interesting to see what the Red Sox do with him this off-season, as they could designate him again in hopes that he clears waivers and can be retained as a non-40-man player.
(Picture of Easton McGee: Tim Warner/Getty Images)