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The Rays and the Rule 5 deadline

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

The Tampa Bay Rays have already been busy trimming their 40 man roster.

First, they made a series of cuts when they had to add players back from the 60 day Injured List over the last week, trading Mike Brosseau and Louis Head to the Brewers and Marlines, respectively, and allowing Dietrich Enns to sign overseas. This brings the Rays 40 man roster down to 37.

The next deadline that impacts the 40 man roster is the Rule 5 draft protection deadline this coming Friday. Any player that a team wishes to protect from the Rule 5 draft will need to be added to the 40 man roster. December 2 is the non-tender deadline and we might see some players non-tendered to create the needed space.

Locks

Jonathan Aranda, IF

Jonathan Aranda had one of the breakout offensive performances in the Rays system. In 411 plate appearances split between A+ and AA he hit .330/.418/.543. He make impact contact without excessive swing and miss. The biggest question mark surrounds his defensive home. He played 1B, 2B, 3B, and even some shortstop this year however he most of his time was seen at first base. He’s on the small side for first base. He can hit so this shouldn’t impede his progress to the majors.

Blake Hunt, C

Blake Hunt was one of the minor league pieces that the Rays received in the Blake Snell trade last winter. His strikeout rate surged to over 30% but he did find playable power at the plate at A+. He hit .225/.307/.427 while at AA. He struggled in 63 plate appearances after he was promoted to AA where he hit .125/.210/.161 with a strikeout rate nearing 40%. His primary value comes on the defensive side where he is expected to be an above average defender.

Maybe

Tommy Romero, RHP

Tommy Romero came over in the deal that sent Alex Colome and Denard Span to the Seattle Mariners in 2018. Romero saw his results take a big step forward in 2021. In 110.1 innings split between AA and AAA he put up a 2.61 ERA and 2.85 FIP. His strikeout rate spiked to 33.3% and he kept his walk rate at 7.1%. Romero throws a firm fastball in the mid 90s. He adds a curve and slider as his breaking balls and has a changeup that is a work in progress.

Tobias Myers, RHP

Tobias Myers was acquired from the Baltimore Orioles in the trade of Tim Beckham. Myers is a local that went to Winter Haven High School. Like Romero he split time between AA and AAA. In 117.2 innings he put up a 3.90 ERA and 3.82 FIP. He struck out 30.5% of the batters he faced while only posting a walk rate of 5.8%. Myers works off a mid 90s fastball and low 80s curveball as his primary offerings. He flashes an above average changeup that he needs to find more consistency in.

Ruben Cardenas, OF

Ruben Cardenas was acquired in a trade that sent Hunter Wood and Christian Arroyo to Cleveland. Cardenas calling card is his power and in 2021 he combined for 25 homers between A+ and AA in 441 plate appearances. He hit .292/.333/.523. The question will come down to will his swing and miss be too much for the power to play. He struck out 26.1% of the time while only walking 5.4% of the time.

Tanner Dodson, RHP

Tanner Dodson was drafted by the Rays with the 71st overall pick in the 2018 draft as a two way player. He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2019 and early in the 2021 season he transitioned to the mound full time. In 56.1 innings as a multi inning reliever he put up a 3.20 ERA and 3.59 FIP. He posted a 26.3% strikeout rate and 9.5% walk rate. He throws an upper 90s fastball and high 80s slider.

Calvin Faucher, RHP

Calvin Faucher was acquired as part of the Nelson Cruz trade with the Minnesota Twins. In 55.2 innings split between AA and AAA he put up a 4.53 ERA and 4.20 FIP. He posted a 29.1% strikeout rate and 12.6% walk rate. Faucher throws a high spin rate four-seam fastball that he pairs with a slider. He needs to limit the walk rate but the stuff is something the Rays can work with.

Doubtful

Ford Proctor, C

Ford Proctor was the Rays third round pick in the 2018 draft out of Rice University. Proctor spent the 2019-2020 offseason transitioning from second base to catcher. The defense is still a work in progress as he’s raw but he has solid bat to ball skills. He hit .244/.381/.419 with 12 homers in 381 plate appearances in AA. He walks a lot but his strikeout rate ballooned to 26.2% this year.

Niko Hulsizer, OF

Niko Hulsizer was acquired in the trade that sent Adam Kolarek to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Hulsizer can hit the ball for a lot of power much like Cardenas. He combined for 21 homers between A+ and AA in 376 plate appearances. He has too much swing and miss in his game at the present with a 39.4% strikeout rate in 2021.

Michael Mercado, RHP

Michael Mercado was the Rays second round pick in the 2017 draft. Mercado missed the 2019 and 2020 seasons due to Tommy John surgery. He put up an uninspiring 5.35 ERA and 5.52 FIP over 70.2 innings at A+, but his stuff has continued to tick up. His fastball now sits in the 94-95 range and has shown the ability to spin a curveball and slider. His 26.8% strikeout rate and 7.6% walk rate were very promising.

Jacob Lopez, LHP

Jacob Lopez was acquired by the Rays in the deal that sent Joe McCarthy to the San Francisco Giants. Lopez was in the middle of a breakout season that ended just after getting promoted to AA. He put up a 2.41 ERA and 3.03 FIP over 59.2 innings. He posted a 39.5% strikeout rate and 7.4% walk rate. However he had to undergo Tommy John surgery and will miss the 2022 season. This might be the toughest decision among them all. If he goes unprotected it’s very likely a team will stash him on the 60 day IL for the season, but the Rays don’t really have the room to do this.

***

My Expectation

The Rays currently have three open roster spots but will look to add two more before the deadline. The Rays add Jonathan Aranda, Blake Hunt, Tommy Romero, Tobias Myers, and Tanner Dodson to the 40 man roster.