The Tampa Bay Rays have made plenty of moves this offseason, addressing several of the team’s needs after the 2019 squad fell to the Houston Astros in the American League Division Series, and others not expected.
What needed to be done
A squad that won 96 games and took the second Wild Card spot and eventually won the Wild Card game against the Athletics in Oakland didn’t have very much that needed to be improved upon. The only key members of the team that left via free agency were Avisail Garcia and Travis d’Arnaud; Guillermo Heredia would be non-tendered. The trio of players were integral members of the team, but not irreplaceable.
And thus, the Rays offseason began.
They brought in a significant free agent in Japanese slugger Yoshitomo Tsutsgo, who is capable of playing in the infield as well as the outfield. Other additions include a couple of players from the St Louis Cardinals — Jose Martinez and Randy Arozarena — to help round out the roster.
Prior to those moves however, the Rays shockingly traded away Tommy Pham to the San Diego Padres for Hunter Renfroe, among other pieces, leaving a glaring hole in the Rays lineup that they hope will be supplemented with the addition of Renfroe, along with Martinez and Arozarena.
The Rays have named their replacements for Pham, Garcia, and Heredia on the active roster and as for replacing Travis d’Arnaud behind the plate; the Rays signed Mike Zunino to a two year extension instead, while picking up Kevan Smith for the back up competition.
With all of those moves, the Rays likely won’t be making any major additions between now and spring training, with non-roster invites and minor league signings making up the vast majority of the moves left to be made.
Are we done yet?
Dealing Tommy Pham shook the foundation of the Rays, but the cement appears to have settled.
Unless the front office wants to shake the snow globe again by dealing another key player from the roster, the Rays appear to be done, with the front office betting that the sum of their acquired role players (less Pham) will be greater than what was in the fold last season (with Pham) — which isn’t how you’d expect to replicate 96 wins, but may diversify the team’s risk on offense enough to work
On the pitching side of the things — a.k.a. the stable part of the roster — the only player the Rays have parted ways with that appeared in a significant number of games for them this past season was the out-of-options Austin Pruitt, who they dealt to the Houston Astros on the same day they acquired Martinez and Arozarena.
Meanwhile, the starting rotation may actually be a starting rotation as the Rays have Charlie Morton, Tyler Glasnow, Blake Snell, Ryan Yarbrough, Yonny Chirinos, and Brendan McKay filling out the starting rotation as standard starting pitchers. The bullpen should likewise feature the same familiar faces that dominated in 2019, and hopefully with a fully healthy Jose Alvarado.
Currently, the Rays only have five players that they have announced to minor league deals with and have given spring training invites to: 2 pitchers, 2 catchers, and an outfielder, including the aforementioned Smith.
The Rays looked both internally and externally to address the team’s minimal number of needs that faced them as they started the offseason. With under a month until spring training, the Rays roster seems to be competitive enough, and possibly better through health of the starting rotation.
The only decisions left to be made seem to be who will play where and how often... and to consider when baseball’s top prospect Wander Franco will be promoted.