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Projecting the Tampa Bay Rays 2019 roster

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MLB: Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Rays are a team in transition as they rebuild with an eye on the near future. Their 2018 roster has been constantly in flux, giving us quite of roller coaster ride of nail biting one-run wins and losses. The Rays have several pieces on the way that should make for a competitive team in 2020, and possibly even 2019 is the right chips fall.

With all the moves the Rays have made to date, here’s the current projection for the 2019 major league roster on Opening Day (*left handed).

Position Players

C1: Michael Perez*
1B: Jake Bauers*
2B: Daniel Robertson
3B: Matt Duffy
SS: Willy Adames
LF: Austin Meadows*
CF: Kevin Kiermaier*
RF: Tommy Pham
DH: C.J. Cron

C2: Jesus Sucre
BN: Joey Wendle*
BN: Christian Arroyo
BN: Mallex Smith*

What could change from the above? It’s hard to say whether Christian Arroyo will begin the year in Triple-A, on the bench, or in a starting position. His best place on the roster is blocked by Matt Duffy, and the team leader in WAR (Robertson) will need a defensive home next season. If the Rays move either player in a deal, though, he can slot in as a likely major league regular.

Newly acquired catcher Michael Perez begins projections as the starting catcher, but it should be noted the Rays will have cash to spend next year, with less than $40M on the books through this roster, so catcher is a place the team could upgrade, as there are several quality free agents to come.

Tampa Bay has not promoted Austin Meadows just yet, but expect him to hold down the left field job as soon as later this month. Meanwhile, should the Rays have a need or interest in moving on from C.J. Cron, current bench player Ji-Man Choi can fill the void until in house slugger Nate Lowe completes his rise through the minors.

Pitching

OP: Ryne Stanek
OP: Hunter Wood

SP1: Blake Snell*
SP2: Jake Faria
SP3: Tyler Glasnow
SP4: Ryan Yarbrough*
SP5: Wilmer Font

CL: Chaz Roe
SU: Jose Alvarado*
SU: Diego Castillo
LR: Yonny Chirinos
LR: Jalen Beeks*

Here’s I’ve distinguished two pitchers as Openers, as that is the role in which they’ve thrived for the Rays, but both players would get spot relief roles as well.

The giant question mark for the Rays will be Wilmer Font, who was picked up off the waiver wire to be stretched out as a starter, but has succumbed to what has been described as a lat strain. If he can recover, the Rays are likely to try his luck at starting once more.

Should Font be unavailable, Beeks can slot into the fifth starter’s role, with or without an opener in front of him, but even more likely may be the Rays pursuing outside help, with a return of Nathan Eovaldi or James Shields (should his option be declined by the White Sox) as strong possibilities.

From there the Rays will put their rotation to the test while they wait to see how Brent Honeywell, Jose De Leon, and Anthony Banda recover from Tommy John surgery.

Do you disagree with any of the above? Let us know.