The Tampa Bay Rays have made a few moves since the last time I reviewed the 40 man roster. The deadline to protect prospects from the rule five draft and the non-tender deadline has past. A few days ahead of the winter meetings, the Rays have 37 rostered players.

The Rays recently added RHP Brent Honeywell, 1B/OF Jake Bauers, OF Justin Williams, RHP Diego Castillo, RHP Yonny Chirinos, RHP Jose Mujica, and LHP Ryan Yarbrough to the 40 man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 draft.

They also claimed 2B/OF Micah Johnson off waivers.

Ahead of the non-tender deadline the Rays traded RHP Brad Boxberger to the Arizona Diamondbacks. RHP Chase Whitley was designated for assignment and was claimed by the Atlanta Braves. LHP Xavier Cedeno was non-tendered.

After this series of moves the Rays have three open spots to navigate the off-season.

Pitchers

The majority of the roster is taken up by pitchers. Considering how many pitchers it takes to make it through a season this is a prudent and necessary measure. Of the 37 players on the roster 22 are pitchers.

Starters:

Nathan Eovaldi (6.013 years – 0 options)
Chris Archer (4.156 years – 0 options)
Jake Odorizzi (4.042 years – 2 options)
Matt Andriese (2.071 years, 1 option)
Blake Snell (1.071 years, 1 option)
Austin Pruitt (0.132 years, 2 options)
Jacob Faria (0.112 years, 1 option)
Jose De Leon (0.030 years, 2 options)
Brent Honeywell (0.000 years, 3 options)
Ryan Yarbrough (0.000 years, 3 options
Yonny Chirinos (0.000 years, 3 options)
Jose Mujica (0.000 years, 3 options)

Twelve of these pitchers could get a start for the Rays this year should they survive the winter on the roster. Whoever loses out on a spot in the rotation could see time in the bullpen.

Four pitchers (Honeywell, Yarbrough, Chirinos, and Mujica) were just added to the roster and haven’t received any MLB time; have all three options remaining. As such they are unlikely to start the year on the 25 man roster, although the Rays willingness to add Pruitt to the roster as they broke camp suggests they could consider such a move.

Relievers:

Dan Jennings (4.171 years, 0 options)
Alex Colome (3.118 years, 0 options)
Chaz Roe (2.094 years, 0 options)
Jose Alvarado (0.093 years, 2 options)
Ryne Stanek (0.067 years, 2 options)
Andrew Kittredge (0.040 years, 2 options)
Chih-Wei Hu (0.028 years, 2 options)
Jaime Schultz (0.000 years, 2 options)
Hunter Wood (0.000 years, 2 options)
Diego Castillo (0.000 years, 3 options)

Ten players worked mostly or almost exclusively as relievers in the recent past. Currently there are only three players without options. That gives the bullpen a lot of flexibility. Having seven players with multiple options gives the team the depth to survive the grind.

If the Rays do end up dealing Colome there will likely be a veteran arm or two added to this group. If they keep Colome they will likely still look to add at least an arm or two to minor league deals like they did with Tommy Hunter last winter.

Overall the bar is high for any newly acquired pitcher to be added to the 40 man.

Position Players

Currently there are 15 position players on the roster. This is where most of the additions and open roster spots will should be used.

Catchers:

Wilson Ramos (7.047 years, 0 options)
Jesus Sucre (3.137 years, 0 options)

The Rays currently have the catchers to field a normal roster. At minimum they will have to add a veteran on a minor league pact. This becomes even more true if Nick Ciuffo is selected in the rule five draft.

Infield:

Evan Longoria (9.170 years, 0 options)
Adeiny Hechavarria (5.060 years, 0 options)
Brad Miller (4.094 years, 3 options)
Matt Duffy (3.059 years, 3 options)
Micah Johnson (1.046 years, 0 options)
Daniel Robertson (0.159 years, 2 options)
Willy Adames (0.000 years, 2 options)
Jake Bauers (0.000 years, 3 options)

The Rays could field a roster, but there’s likely to be some shakeup in the roster here. Johnson was claimed on waivers recently. It was the fourth team to claim him this off-season and we’re only in the beginning of December. I would be shocked if he survived the winter on the roster. He’ll likely continue his trip around the league collected hats like Richie Shaffer did last year until he finally ended up off the roster as AAA depth.

Currently Miller would be their everyday first baseman. I wouldn’t expect that to be the case by opening day.

It would be a shock to see Adames or Bauers start the season with the major league club, but they should make an impact at some point. Adames gives them depth as he’ll be able to cover any hole in the infield that should open up due to injury or under performance outside of first base. Bauers will step into any first base opening.

Outfield:

Corey Dickerson (4.101 years, 3 options)
Kevin Kiermaier (3.131 years, 2 options)
Steven Souza Jr. (3.072 years, 2 options)
Mallex Smith (1.125 years, 2 options)
Justin Williams (0.000 years, 3 options)

This is one position where you will likely see the Rays make an addition. Four of the five outfielders bat left handed, with Souza the only righty. I would expect a right handed outfielder to be added. He could range from a Peter Bourjos (fringe major leaguer) to a bigger target who could push Dickerson to be the everyday designated hitter.

The Rays still have work to do.

This isn’t the final roster we’ll see by the time opening day arrives. The front office will try to improve the team where they can. If you take owner Stu Sternberg at his word that the payroll will be lower than the 2017-ending $81MM there will have to be some minor cutting before any additions. The current payroll sits around $80MM.

The Rays have a talented 40 man roster; there are only a few areas where better options are likely to be available in the Rays’ price range. The winter meetings will kick off this weekend and a lot of the groundwork surrounding the way the roster will evolve before opening day.


Article first appeared on www.draysbay.com