The Rays have made a lot of moves since the last off season. Those moves are going to give the team an entirely different feel. Some of those feelings might even be completely unknown to Rays fans.
The Rays are going to have a catcher that can hit
When was the last time the Rays had a catcher that could hold his own in the lineup? Signing free agent catcher Wilson Ramos is going to have a huge impact on this team for at least the next two years. He won’t be behind the plate in the first month or two of 2017, but once he’s healthy he could bring a bat to the position Rays fans haven’t seen in the club’s two decade history.
The Rays are going to have a vastly improved infield defense
The Rays infield defense has been pretty bad as a collective whole since 2013. According to Statcorner, they’ve been right in the -30 runs range every year since then.
Newly acquired Matt Duffy should be at worst an average defender at shortstop, which will be a huge boost to that infield squad. His exemplary career 14.4 UZR/150 and 23 DRS in 1746.1 innings at 3B suggest he should be a better shortstop than anything the Rays have had in years.
The Rays bullpen will not be terrible
Another area of their game that needed improving was the bullpen depth. The backend of Alex Colome, Xavier Cedeno and Erasmo Ramirez will still be there, but the big improvement here will come in the “addition by subtraction” department. They trimmed the fat from last year by removing Dana Eveland and Steve Geltz, and are sticking with the guys that performed well.
The righty hitters need to perform vs left handed pitching
In the midst of a losing season, the Rays traded away their two best lefty mashers by a wide margin in Brandon Guyer and Steve Pearce at the trade deadline. The latter was going to be a free agent anyway, but Guyer still has a few years left on his contract and is one of the best hitters against LHP in the majors. He will be missed and we will look to the righties who had down years against southpaws to rebound and pick up the slack, namely Evan Longoria and Steven Souza Jr.
As a consequence, if the Rays have a move left to make, expect it to be for a right handed outfielder who can cover center in a pinch. Even if this player brought just a league average bat vs LHP, it would probably be a big upgrade over a lefty hitter in the lineup like Corey Dickerson or Nick Franklin.