By early next week the Rays are expected to make official the free agent signings of Kyle Farnsworth and Luke Scott. Currently, the Rays 40-man roster is full and it includes 21 pitchers, 5 catchers, 9 infielders, and 5 outfielders. By some mechanism the Rays will have to make two moves in order to accommodate the newly signed players. Out of each aforementioned group there are a total of six candidates at risk for removal from the 40-man: pitcher Dane De La Rosa, catchers Chris Gimenez, Stephen Vogt, and Robinson Chirinos, and infielders Elliot Johnson and Reid Brignac.
Of all the pitchers the most susceptible is 29 year old Dane De La Rosa (turns 30 on February 1st. While he possesses a strong right arm he doesn't always exhibit the greatest control which is one reason he is a veteran of 9 seasons in the minors including a trip to the independent leagues. Evan Brunell of CBSsports profiled De La Rosa's journey from Yankee flameout, to real estate agent, to Indy League ballplayer, to Port Charlotte in an article back in February of 2011. Last year at Durham he appeared in 54 games, recording 20 saves, and pitching to a 0-4 record with a 2.79 ERA, 11.6 K/9, and 5.6 BB/9. Last season he appeared in 5 games for the Rays but may be best known for being in a dispute with Sean Rodriguez that ended with Rodriguez punching a locker and breaking his hand.
The Rays are carrying 5 catchers on their roster or more accurately they are carrying five guys that can catch. It is assumed that Jose Molina will get a bulk of the catching duties in 2013 while Jose Lobaton will be first in line as his backup. This leaves Chris Gimenez, Robinson Chirinos, and Stephen Vogt as candidates to be removed from the roster.
Chris Gimenez is 30 years old, is a right handed bat, and has options remaining. Although he can play LF and 1b it seems as if he has built a level of trust with Joe Maddon in regards to his catching ability. He should be in spring training to push Jose Lobaton for the backup catching position. Last season he appeared in 42 games with the Rays and posted a slash line of .260/.315/.330 and catching in 39 games including 31 starts. It was in Durham that Gimenez showed off his versatility by playing in LF (11 games), RF (11 games), 3b (2 games), 1b (1 game), and catcher (47 games) while posting a slash line of .310/.389/.483.
Stephen Vogt is 28 years old, is a left handed bat, and has options remaining. In 2012 with the Rays he had 27 plate appearances and his only appearances on the base paths come from 2 walks which gives him a rather dubious 0-25 hitless streak to begin his career. The record for a non-pitcher belongs to While with the Rays he appeared in 18 games (4 starts) and only made 1 start behind the plate while getting the other 3 starts as the designated hitter. Like Gimenez he also played all over the diamond while in Durham. He played catcher (37 games), LF (23 games), RF (12 games), and 1b (16 games) while posting a slash line of .272/.350/.483.
Robinson Chirinos is 28 years old and is a right handed bat. Chirinos was acquired by the Rays as part of the Matt Garza trade and made it to the big league club for 20 games in 2011. He reported to spring training last winter ready to challenge for the backup catching position but took a foul ball off the mask which led to a horrific battle with post-concussion syndrome which cost him the entire 2012 season. The good news is that he has resumed his playing career first with the Rays instructional league team and continued this winter in Venezuela. All reports are that he is healthy and will be ready to go day 1 in spring training. Take a moment to read Roger Mooney's article Chirinos Facing A Long Comeback From Concussion published last July as it is truly a fantastic read.
The susceptible middle infielders on the Rays roster are the polarizing duo of Elliot Johnson and Reid Brignac.
Elliot Johnson is 28 years old (29 on March 9th), is a switch-hitter, and is out of options. Johnson spent the majority of his time at shortstop in 2012 where he played in 100 games (68 starts). He also played 2b (13 games [8 starts]), 3b (6 games [3 starts]), and LF (3 games). Overall he posted a slash line of .242/.304/.350 with 6 homers in 331 plate appearances while chipping in 18 stolen bases while only getting caught 4 times.
Reid Brignac is 27 years old, is a left handed bat, and is out of options. Coming off a dismal 2011 campaign in which he posted a sub-.500 OPS (.448) he came to spring training looking for redemption. Joe Maddon said that the starting shortstop was an open competition between himself and Sean Rodriguez and that the competition would be based on under the hood things. At the end of spring training Rodriguez was named the starting shortstop but due to an injury to BJ Upton he made the opening day roster only to be sent down in mid-April. Nobody knows what exactly he said to Joe Maddon on his way out and all Maddon would say was that "he wasn't happy." Even with all of the injuries the Rays endured during the 2012 season Brignac was buried in Durham...partly because of his struggles with the bat and possibly because of his attitude when he departed. He finally made it back to the Rays in September for 4 plate appearances.
The Rays aren't very deep in catcher and having Chris Gimenez and Stephen Vogt available if needed should eliminate them from the threat of losing their roster spot.Elliot Johnson provides experience and depth at a number of positions and the Rays will probably hold on to him at least into spring training. That leaves Robinson Chirinos, Reid Brignac, and Dane De La Rosa as the most likely candidates to be designated for assignment.
With 21 pitchers already on the 40 man roster and Jamey Wright signed to a minor league deal it is logical to assume that Dane De La Rosa will be one of the two players removed from the 40 man roster.Robinson Chirinos is coming off a very difficult to predict injury and for that reason odds are that he would clear waivers (I do not believe teams can request medicals on a player who has been placed on waivers). The Rays may be holding on to Reid Brignac through spring training and will look to move him in a deal or sneak him through waivers then.