On Monday afternoon, the Tampa Bay Rays announced they had designated Justin O'Conner for assignment in order to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Wilson Ramos. The Rays signed Ramos to a deal that could give him nearly $20 million over the next two years. Ramos is a rare breed who can supply thunder at the plate and is a stud behind the plate. He can be counted on in most offensive situations and has a cannon for an arm. It's what the Rays had envisioned when they selected Justin O'Conner in the first round of the 2010 draft.
O'Conner, 24, has been toiling away in the Rays minor league system for six years, struggling to remain healthy. He was on the cusp of reaching the majors entering spring training this past season, however, fate dealt him a cruel hand as a rough drive to Florida resulted in a herniated disk in his back, which becomes a bigger issue due to his career behind the plate. It was just more of the same for O'Conner who has spent most of his minor league career either on the disabled list or dealing with season long slumps. However, no matter his offensive output, the one constant throughout his career was his plus-plus arm behind the plate that scouts gave the maximum grade of 80. No matter his issues, his arm would surely carry him to the majors.
Now however, his career is at a new low point, after missing almost all of the 2016 season, O'Conner underwent two back surgeries once the offseason began. So, when it came time for the Rays to clear roster space, there was one player who was deemed expendable, and it was Justin O'Conner.
Now a free agent to be for the first time in his career, O'Conner's time behind the plate in his career may have come to an end, however, his playing career may still be alive yet. With his arm, O'Conner may have a future on the opposite side of the battery, but his back issues may also prevent this from happening. Only time will tell whats in O'Conner's future, but things have surly changed since being the young high school draft pick.