With spring training well under way, the Tampa Bay Rays are once again looking to get some new offensive players adjusted to the team.
The Rays once again turned over a quarter of their offense in The off season trading Tommy Pham to San Diego, and losing Avisail Garcia to Milwaukee and Travis D’Arnaud to Atlanta in free agency as the Rays were unable to re-sign those players.
The Rays also non-tendered outfielder Guillermo Heredia making him a free agent.
The Pham trade was a hard one for Rays fans to come to terms with that as Pham was a fan favorite and was also very well liked and respected in the clubhouse.
In trading Pham to San Diego, the Rays picked up right fielder Hunter Renfroe who hit 33 homers last season.
Renfroe is slated to start in right field joining Kevin Keirmaier in center, and Austin meadows in left.
The Rays pulled off a second trade with the Padres sending pitcher Emilio Pagan to San Diego in exchange for center fielder Manuel Margot and a minor league prospect.
Margot was the second best defensive center fielder in the National League last season, but will back up Keirmaier this season. Keirmaier has missed extended periods of time the past two seasons due to injuries, so the Rays feel that Margot is a good player to have as insurance in the case Keirmaier misses time again this season.
The Rays acquired the versatile Jose Martinez from the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for prospect Matt Liberatore. The Rays also picked up Cuban prospect Randy Arozarena in the deal.
Arozarena has been tearing the cover off the ball this spring hitting .750 and taking every advantage of the opportunities he has been given.
With just 20 MLB at bats on his resume, its doubtful he makes the Rays roster out of Port Charlotte but will definitely see time with the big league club this season.
Martinez is coming off a down year where he hit just .269 with ten homers in 2019 after hitting .305 with 17 homers and driving in 83 runs in 2018.
Martinez will play at first, right field, and DH.
The Rays biggest offensive addition this off season was signing one of the best offensive hitters from the Japanese League, Yoshi Tsutsugo to a two year contract.
Tsutsugo had had six straight seasons of .899 OPS or better. The 28 year old is very challenged defensively, but has averaged 33 homers and just over 90 RBI’s over the last five seasons.
2016 was the best year offensively for Tsutsugo as he hit .322 with 44 homers and 110 RBI’s.
The Rays feel that they made big strides in upgrading their offense with the additions of Tsutsugo, Martinez, and Renfroe.
The Rays will have at least three every day players capable of hitting 30 or more home runs and three to four players capable of hitting at least 20 home runs.
This Rays team is much better offensively than the Rays team from 2019. It looks great on paper, but a lot can happen over 162 games.
The Rays will have Mike Zuninio and Micheal Perez as the catchers. Both catchers missed substantial time with injuries last season, but Zuninio is the favorite to be the number one catcher.
Ji Man Choi will start at first and platoon with Jose Martinez throughout the season. Brandon Lowe will be at second, with Wily Adames at short and Yandy Diaz at third.
Meadows, Keirmaier, and Renfroe will man the outfield positions with Tsutsugo as the primary DH.
The bench should consist of Manuel Margot, Joey Wendle, Michael Perez, and Daniel Robertson.
Nate Lowe and Mike Brosseau will also compete for a spot on the bench, but will probably start the season at Durham.
For the first time in a while, the Rays will not have a lot of roster spots open.
Lucious Fox, Vidal Brujan, and Roberto Hernandez among other prospects are all in camp hoping to impress the Rays and get a call up at some point this season.
The news is not so good on Blake Snell as he may miss the start of the season due to inflammation in his elbow.
Snell had surgery last year to remove bone chips and has experienced pain this spring as he has been throwing almost daily.
Snell was given a cortisone shot to help with the pain and inflammation, but may not be ready to go at the end of March.
Snell was given a CT scan and it showed that there were no further chips and Snell is confidant that the elbow will be ok.
The Rays open up the season at home against the Pittsburgh Pirates on March 26th.