The Rays will be missing many familiar faces in 2011 due to free agency. I'm going to give my ideas of how the roster should be constructed next year. The Rays are limited however, with their spending. I will include free agents I believe would be good fits for this team as well as possible trade targets. So let's go position by position in analyzing my ideas for the 2011 Rays:
SP1 David Price
SP2 Matt Garza
SP3 James Shields
SP4 Wade Davis
SP5 Jeff Niemann
I would make these 5 my starters. Although I've heard the trade speculation about Garza, if I'm the Rays I would wait until the trade deadline to deal any of my starters and keep Hellickson as a reserve starter in case of injuries. That would give the Rays 2 spot starters in Hellickson and Sonnanstine.
Closer - With the loss of Soriano, the Rays will have to find a suitable replacement at closer. My first choice would be Bobby Jenks, but I'm not sure how much he would cost. My Plan B would be Kevin Gregg. I believe he only made around $3 Million last year and shouldn't be outrageously expensive. He is a solid closer and would give the Rays a stable presence in the back end of their bullpen. Other options would be Kerry Wood and Octavio Dotel.
Right Handed Relievers
David Riske (Although Riske has an injury history, I believe he's an under the radar guy who can be good if healthy)
Guillermo Mota (He has a lot of experience in MLB and can give the Rays help at a cheap price)
Chan Ho Park (Park is a reliable middle reliever and I believe he can be good in Tampa Bay)
Adam Russell (I think he is a good bet for the Rays if the Bartlett trade goes through)
Left Handed Relievers
J.P. Howell (He will be injured to start the season but has the potential to be very good)
Jake McGee (He is really good, if he stays healthy, he will help the Rays)
Cesar Ramos (Another player in the Bartlett deal, can compete for a roster spot until Howell is ready)
Cesar Cabral (The Rays selected him in the Rule 5 Draft, he can compete with Ramos for the final bullpen spot)
John Jaso (he will be the main catcher coming off a good year in Tampa Bay)
Kelly Shoppach (he will be the backup catcher, probably hitting against lefties)
As of now, the Rays will probably have Leslie Anderson and Dan Johnson compete for the job in spring training. I think Yonder Alonso would be a great fit, but I'm not sure what the Reds would want for him.
Willy Aybar (I think the Rays should resign Aybar, he is versatle and has some power/ good bench piece)
Evan Longoria (No question here, Longoria will be the starting third baseman)
With the loss of Crawford, there will be a really different look in left field, that Rays fans will have to get used to. I would have a competition in spring training for this position. Also, I would sign Johnny Damon as the primary DH, but he can also play left field if needed. I will write more about him in the DH part.
B.J. Upton (I would wait until the trade deadline to deal Upton as well. He will have time to build up trade value, since it can't be that high right now. Also, it will give the Rays time to assess their needs.)
Gabe Kapler (I think Kapler can be a good, cost effective 4th outfielder)
Johnny Damon (I think Johnny Damon is one player the Rays really should sign. He is versatile in the lineup. He can bat first, second, or third in the lineup. He can show Jennings how to be a good leadoff hitter as well as provide leadership for a young team. He is a player who is used to winning, member of two championship teams in the 2004 Red Sox and 2009 Yankees. He can be like Troy Percival was in 2008 I believe for the Rays. Also he shouldn't be that expensive with all the DH options available on the free agent market. He has some power, some speed, and good plate discipline.He can help this team in many ways for 2011.)
I think if the Rays made these moves they could have plenty of depth for 2011 and many options or versatility. With their starting pitching, I believe they can still be competitive, even with the Yankees and Red Sox in their division. If the bullpen pieces work out, they will have an excellent pitching staff with a lot of depth. Their lineup would have very good plate discipline and patience for walks. They should get on base and score a good amount of runs if guys like Joyce and Upton have good seasons. They have a lot of potential and young talent even with their key losses.
This roster should cost around $55 Million which isn't that bad and is a signifigant decrease from last year. If they trade some guys at the trade deadline, it will lower payroll even further. So this roster isn't beyond reason.
K.Gregg, D.Riske, G.Mota, C.Park, A.Russell, C.Ramos, C.Cabral, J.Howell, T.Plouffe, W.Aybar, G.Kapler, J.Damon
R.Soriano, D.Wheeler, G.Balfour, L.Cormier, J.Benoit, R.Choate, C.Qualls, D.Navarro, C.Pena, J.Bartlett, B.Hawpe, C.Crawford, R.Baldelli