The countdown to spring training and the regular season has begun.
Here we are six weeks from spring training, and it’s business as usual in the Tampa Bay Rays front office, which means doing nothing to improve the team offensively.
Rays owner Stu Sternberg continues to play the cities of Tampa and St. Petersburg against one another, and the battle continues to rage over where the new Rays stadium will be built.
While this battle goes on behind the scenes, it has been a relatively quiet off-season for the front office.
The front office has done nothing to improve one of the worst offenses in the league.
The Rays Had One Of The Worst Offenses Last Season
The Rays and the .115 batting average in their short playoff series against the Cleveland Guardians showed us how offensively challenged this team is.
This team also set new records for offensive futility. They had the lowest on-base slugging percentage of any playoff team in the last 50 years.
The team missed two critical pieces of their offense for most of the 2022 season. Brandon Lowe missed almost the whole season with a back injury, and Wander Franco missed significant time with a hand injury.
But what is concerning is the Rays have still done nothing to improve the offense. First, the Rays let Mike Zunino, David Peralta, and Kevin Keirmaier walk in free agency. Then, they traded Ji-Man Choi to Pittsburgh.
None of these guys were the second coming of Babe Ruth offensively. But Zunino was one season removed from a 33-home run season.
Most of the marquee-free agents have already been signed. So what is left is guys on the backend of their careers like Brandon Belt and Corey Dickerson.
Update: Brandon Belt signed a one-year contract with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Was 2021 a worst-case scenario? Possibly.
If the Rays can get close to an entire season out of Brandon Lowe and Wander Franco, that would go a long way to improving this Ray’s offense.
The Rays May Rely On Their Pitching Again In 2023
The Rays may again rely on their pitching to carry them to the postseason. They have one of the best rotations in baseball and have one of the top five starting 1-2 in baseball in Tyler Glasnow and Shane McClanahan
Rays President Erik Neander said at the press conference for the signing of Zack Eflin that he feels they strengthened the strongest area on the team with the signing of Eflin. “There’s nothing wrong with making a strength that much stronger. We believe that with Zach here, we’ve got a chance to, on any given day with our rotation, have a group that has recently pitched at the front of rotations or at that ability level or very much has that potential.”
The Rays also need to find a first baseman with the trade of Ji-Man Choi to Pittsburgh. That will probably be filled internally with Yandy Diaz, Brandon Lowe, Jonathan Aranda, and Harold Ramirez among the candidates.
With the Roster that the Rays have put together so far, they would be, at best finish second in the division behind the New York Yankees.