Morlan, the prospect acquired in the Delmon Young trade, is now likely to be selected in the Rule V draft as a result of being left off the 40-man in favor of Thayer. Once considered one of the premier relief pitching prospects in the minors, a shoulder injury bothered him for much of the 2008 season as his peripheral statistics all declined. He posted a 3.64 ERA and 4.81 tRA in 30 appearances at Double-A Montgomery, with a 8.62 K/9 rate, 2.87 BB/9 and 3.00 K/B ratio in 47.0 innings pitched.
There were high expectations for Morlan entering spring training, as he was coming off an excellent 2007 campaign in which he struck out 92 in 65.2 innings pitched and posted a 12.61 K/9, 2.33 BB/9 and 1.10 WHIP in High Single-A. While he did not miss bats as frequently and had injury concerns in the Southern League, he is still only 23 and has an explosive fastball. In the right situation, he has the chance to latch on in a big league bullpen and enjoy success.
Thayer had an outstanding season at Triple-A Durham. He produced a 2.77 ERA and 3.68 tRA in 68.1 innings pitched, striking out 76. Although hitters batted .275 against him--due to an unusually high BABIP--he struck out 10.01 batters per nine innings and registered excellent peripherals. Still, he is 28 years old and does not have as high of a ceiling as Morlan.
Davis and McGee, despite missing most of the season after tearing his ulnar collateral ligament, were no-brain decisions.
Most likely, the Rays will lose Morlan, who has been effective in the Puerto Rican Winter League. The right-hander could turn into a capable late-innings reliever, perhaps a closer, sooner than later.