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With Rule 5 deadline looming, Rays have several decisions to make

Who might the Rays trade or designate this week?

Wild Card Round - Tampa Bay Rays v Oakland Athletics
Michael Brosseau
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The first catalyst for moves approaches with the deadline to protect prospects from the Rule 5 draft on Wednesday.

The Rays accomplished a lot of fat trimming on the 40 man roster at the trade deadline with minor deals trading Joe McCarthy, Andrew Velazquez, Hunter Wood, Jake Faria, Ryne Stanek, and Christian Arroyo.

And there’s still work to be done, with two main roads to making room on the roster at this stage:

Trades

The Rays aren’t ones to be predictable. A year ago I thought Jake Bauers was one of the least likely players to be traded, yet he was moved.

The most likely pieces moved in this manner would be not be major league players, but prospects Lucius Fox and Moises Gomez. Both would be reasonable additions if the 40 man roster wasn’t as full. Teams with space could look to add them, and certainly will if left unprotected by Tampa Bay.

The return in any trade would likely be minor, but would involve prospects that won’t need to be protected by the Rays for a couple of years.

On the major league side, Jesus Aguilar and Matt Duffy are unlikely to be on the team come opening day and could likewise be dealt. If there is no market, they could instead be...

Designated For Assignment

There are two different groups at play. The first is removing the worst players currently on the 40-man. As the roster sits, the most likely candidates are Michael Brosseau on the position player side, Andrew Kittredge from the relief depth, and Austin Pruitt from the starting depth (he is out of options).

The other method is preemptively making non-tender decisions like last year, when they DFA’d CJ Cron before the December 2nd non-tender deadline. If the Rays want to create roster space right now with the same foresight, Duffy and Aguilar could be removed from the roster this week.

Mike Zunino might also end up non-tendered, which would temporarily open up a roster spot, but the Rays likely want to bring him back on a new deal if that occurred.

So, what happens?

The Rays 40-man roster currently sits at 37. As discussed earleir, I expect the Rays will protect five prospects: Vidal Brujan, Ronaldo Hernandez, Jake Cronenworth, Kevin Padlo, and Cristopher Sanchez. There could be a minor surprise addition or two, but the quality of the 40 man makes this difficult.

Ultimately, the Rays will have to remove at least two players from the 40 man either by trade or DFA by Wednesday afternoon. I expect Pruitt and Aguilar to be the first two players removed. If the Rays don’t trade Gomez I think they will protect him and will DFA Brosseau to make space.

40-man roster space is tight, but navigating the Rule 5 deadline shouldn’t be too difficult.

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Read More: Which prospects will the Rays protect ahead of the Rule 5 draft?