Eno Sarris recently wrote about the Rays being one of three teams that are built primarily through trades along with the Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics. Every team relies on trades to fill out their major league roster, but the Rays have been more reliant than most in recent years. This year’s team is no exception.
The Tampa Bay Rays active roster has gone through a tremendous amount of change in the last few years. In the past year it seems the volatility has only increased while the team got younger.
Let’s dive into how the 25 man roster was made, starting with the position players in each section.
Kevin Kiermaier was a remarkable find for the organization as their 31st round pick in the 2010 draft. At this point in the draft you’re mostly looking at filling out minor league rosters and not looking for your starting centerfielder for the next decade. Finding Kiermaier is one of the few wins in the MLB draft for Tampa Bay since 2009.
Brandon Lowe was drafted in the third round out of the University of Maryland in 2015. Lowe rocketed through the minors last year and found himself in the majors and the front office showed their belief with a $24MM extension last week.
Blake Snell is the prize of the Rays 2011 draft as the 52nd overall pick. The draft is generally viewed as a failure for not getting more out of 12 picks in the top 100 with Jake Faria being the only remaining player from the draft still in the Rays organization, but getting a Cy Young Award winner covers a lot of misses.
Ryne Stanek fell to the Rays with the 29th pick in the 2013 draft. The pick was compensation for losing BJ Upton to free agency.
Jose Alvarado was signed as an international free agent on March 13, 2012 out of Venezuela.
Diego Castillo was signed as an international free agent on March 5, 2014. Castillo was signed as a 20 year old when most players that make it to the majors are signed as 16 year olds.
Yonny Chirinos was signed on June 29, 2012 as an international free agent out of Venezuela.
Matt Duffy (IL)
Mike Zunino and Guillermo Heredia were brought in as part of the Mallex Smith deal with the Seattle Mariners on November 7, 2018.
Michael Perez was brought in at the trade deadline last July from the Arizona Diamondbacks for Matt Andriese.
Willy Adames was the lone prospect included in the July 31, 2014 trade with the Detroit Tigers and Seattle Mariners for David Price.
Ji-Man Choi was brought in in a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers last July for Brad Miller after Choi turned down a deal with the Rays the previous winter.
Yandy Diaz was the return for Jake Bauers and $5MM on the final day of the Winter Meetings.
Daniel Robertson was acquired in the Ben Zobrist trade with the Oakland Athletics in January 2015.
Joey Wendle was acquired from the Oakland Athletics for a player to be named later that ended up being Jonah Heim in December 2017.
Tommy Pham was the big piece the Rays bought at last year’s trade deadline from the St. Louis Cardinals for Justin Williams and Genesis Cabrera.
Austin Meadows was the co-headliner of the Chris Archer trade last July with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Matt Duffy was the primary return in the Matt Moore trade with the San Francisco Giants at the 2016 trade deadline.
Jose De Leon (IL)
Anthony Banda (IL)
Tyler Glasnow was the co-headliner in the Chris Archer trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates last July.
Ryan Yarbrough was a secondary piece in the Drew Smyly trade with the Seattle Mariners on January 11, 2017.
Jalen Beeks was acquired in a trade for Nathan Eovaldi last July with the Boston Red Sox.
Wilmer Font was acquired from the Oakland Athletics for Peter Bayer after being DFA’d.
Jose De Leon was the return in the Logan Forsythe trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Anthony Banda was the primary piece in the Steven Souza, Jr. trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks last February.
Chaz Roe was acquired from the Atlanta Braves for cash considerations on July 18, 2017.
Avisail Garcia was signed to a one year contract this winter after being non-tendered by the Chicago White Sox.
Charlie Morton received the largest free agent deal in Rays team history guaranteeing him $30MM over two years.
Adam Kolarek was signed to a minor league free agent contract right before the season began on March 27, 2017 after being released from his minor league contract with the Atlanta Braves three days earlier.
Not coincidentally, the Rays are frequent trade partners with the other two teams mentioned as being built primarily through trades by Sarris: the Athletics and Mariners, having completed multiple trades with each that have impacted the current major league roster.
While the Rays have received positive reviews for their minor league system and recent drafts, it’s remarkable how little of the 25-man roster is truly home grown from the start.
Overall, the position player group was much more reliant on outside talent than the pitching side which has a more diverse method of acquisition.