Rays in a good spot heading into the off-season
The Tampa Bay Rays 96 wins were a bit of a surprise this season considering the way that injuries decimated the pitching staff with Tyler Glasnow missing most of the season with a forearm issue, and Blake Snell last years Cy Young Award winner missing most of August and September with cartilage issues in his elbow.
Rookie of the Year candidate Brandon Lowe missed the second half of the season with various leg injuries, and the Rays best offensive Player Austin Meadows missed most of May with an injury.
The playoff atmosphere was rocking at Tropicana Field, and it would be great to have have that kind of support every home game not just opening day and seeing Tropicana Field filled with all those Damn Yankee and Red Sox fans when those teams come to town.
The Rays have a lot to build on as they look towards 2020.
The majority of the Rays 2019 roster will return in 2020. Outfielder Avisail Garcia, Cather Travis D’Arnaud,and infielder Eric Sogard will be free agents and the only guy that I can see the Rays bringing would be D’Arnaud.
The Rays entered 2019 with Mike Zunino, and Michael Perez as their catchers, but they were both injured within days of one another and the Rays picked up D’Arnaud from the Dodgers.
D’Arnaud was a key player for the Rays this past season hitting 16 homers and driving in 67 runs.
Perez and Zunino are both very good defensively, but don’t offer much offensively. D’Arnaud and his bat would be welcomed back in 2020 providing the Rays and D’Arnaud can come to an agreement.
Although the Rays have first basemen Jesus Aguilar under contract, the Rays are comitted to Ji-Man Choi and Nate Lowe at first, so would be a surprise if Aguilar is retained.
Third basemen Matt Duffy who has spent more time on the DL than on the playing field so far in his Rays career is another player the Rays might let go. Yandy Diaz who has a lot more pop in his bat than Duffy could step in as the every day third baseman, but he has not proven that he can stay healthy for a full season either.
With Charlie Morton, Blake Snell, and Tyler Glasnow having the top three spots in the rotation locked up, now may be the right time for the Rays to abandon the opener strategy and go with two more traditional starters to round out the rotation.
Ryan Yarbrough, Yonny Chirinos, Brenden McKay, and Jose De Leon are prime candidates to round out a five man rotation. The Rays also remain high on prospect Brent Honeywell who has spent the last two years rehabbing various arm injuries.
Honeywell has not pitched in a game since 2017 and will not be throwing until possibly sometime in January. It would be a challenge for Honeywell to make the team in spring training, but would not be surprised to see him in Tampa sometime in 2020.
The Rays will be looking for another right handed bat with some power once again this off-season. The Rays could also be in the market for a closer this off-season, but Emilio Pagan should get a chance at the closer role in spring training.
The Rays payroll will increase significantly from the $53 million dollars they spent in 2019. With Tommy Pham, Chaz Roe, and Tyler Glasnow headed to arbitration this winter, the Rays payroll could end up between $70-75 million dollars in 2020.