Rays acquire catcher Christian Bethancourt from A’s

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CINCINNATI — The Rays made a trade to add offense and another catching option, acquiring Christian Bethancourt from the A’s on Saturday for two minor-leaguers.

Bethancourt, 30, is a right-handed hitter with a .249 average and a .683 OPS in 56 games for Oakland, with four homers and 19 RBIs. He plays catcher, first base and the corner outfield spots, and can DH.

Bethancourt is to join the Rays on Monday. They would have to make room on the 26-man active roster then.

Because of Bethancourt’s versatility and because he hasn’t been behind the plate since June 23, the Rays may add him to the current tandem of Francisco Mejia and Rene Pinto, and send out someone else.

“(A’s manager) Mark Kotsay said he really liked him,’' Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “He’s done some nice things at the plate. His opportunities at catching have kind of been far and few between just because they’ve got a really good everyday catcher there in Sean Murphy. But we’re excited to get him in here. We want to have as much depth as possible.’'

Bethancourt is back in the majors for the first time since 2017, having played previously for the Braves and Padres, including one season as a pitcher. He spent 2018 and 2021 at Triple A, 2019 in Korea and sat out 2020, when there was no minor-league season.

To get Bethancourt, the Rays gave up Triple-A Durham outfielder Cal Stevenson and Class A Charleston pitcher Christian Fernandez. Reliever David McKay was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster.

Also a factor is the uncertainty over a potential return of starting catcher Mike Zunino, who has been out since early June with numbness in his left shoulder and arm.

About Friday night

Friday’s game against the Reds was the first in franchise history to end on a balk, a span of 3,866 games over 25 years and 353 previous walkoffs. It was the 23rd walkoff balk in the live-ball era (since 1920), Elias Sports said.

Cash said that after reviewing video, he believed that reliever Matt Wisler did balk, stemming from tapping his glove on his left leg to indicate he wanted another pitch called via PitchCom. Cash said he understood Wisler’s frustration following the 2-1 loss since that is a move the reliever makes frequently.

“The times he’s done it in the past, it’s been a little bit more cleaner,’' Cash said. “This one looked like there was a little bit more hesitation to consider that he altered his delivery of some sort.’'

Wisler said he watched video and still wasn’t sure but was more concerned about getting clarification if that would be called more frequently, thus needing to change his routine.

Cash was frustrated over another call in the top of 10th inning, when the Rays believed that Reds catcher Michael Papierski illegally blocked the plate and tagged out Mejia. Cash said there is ongoing ambiguity about what is allowed by a catcher.

“There’s a gray area there, but there’s no doubt MLB has got to get it a little bit more defined,’' he said.

Miscellany

Luis Patino’s planned bullpen session was delayed due to the blister on his right middle finger resurfacing. Josh Fleming could rejoin the team to face Boston this week, though it would require a pitcher going on the injured list. Reliever Pete Fairbanks had a strong rehab outing Friday at Durham. ... Shane McClanahan’s status as an American League All-Star should become official Sunday when pitchers and reserves are announced. Reliever Jason Adam also could be named. ... Yandy Diaz didn’t start in a 5-4, 10-inning loss to the Reds on Saturday and flew out as a pinch-hitter, ending his career-best 12-game hitting streak. ... The mystery continues over the odd plastic mask Diaz wore briefly in the dugout Friday. Diaz said he just saw the mask of a woman’s face sitting there and tried it on. Third-base coach Rodney Linares said he first saw two masks, which were labeled “Mask Man Wooden Girl,” in the corner of the dugout before the game and tried one on. Both said they didn’t know where they came from, nor did several other Rays.

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