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Predicting the Tampa Bay Rays Opening Day roster

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Deciding the position players is relatively straight forward, but the rotation/bullpen gets a little tricky

MLB: ALCS-Tampa Bay Rays at Houston Astros Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Spring Training is officially underway, as pitchers and catchers for the Tampa Bay Rays have reported to Port Charlotte to begin their workouts.

With the start of spring, it’s time to start predicting the Rays roster on Opening Day, so without further adieu, here is my official prediction of how the Rays will stack come April 1st.

Catchers

RHB: Mike Zunino
SHB: Francisco Mejia

Infielders

LHB: Ji-Man Choi, Brandon Lowe, Joey Wendle, Yoshi Tsutsugo
RHB: Yandy Diaz, Mike Brosseau, Willy Adames

Outfielders

LHB: Kevin Kiermaier, Austin Meadows
RHB: Randy Arozarena, Manuel Margot

Starting Pitchers

RHP: Tyler Glasow, Chris Archer, Michael Wacha
LHP: Rich HIll, Ryan Yarbrough

Bullpen

RHP: Nick Anderson, Diego Castillo, Pete Fairbanks, Ryan Thompson, Collin McHugh, Hunter Strickland*
LHP: Cody Reed, Shane McClanahan

* Currently not on 40-man roster

I am pretty confident with most of the position players making up this list. Unfortunately, there just isn’t enough roster space to allow Brett Phillips, Kevin Kiermaier, and Manuel Margot to all take up spots on the active roster, so that left Phillips as the odd man out. Phillips does not have any remaining options, so that means I think he’ll be designated for assignment at some point during the Spring. But I would guess he will be kept around for awhile in case of injury.

However, the Rays could choose to allow Phillips to pursue other opportunities if they’re out there and instead rely upon prospect Josh Lowe, who is on the 40-man roster, as the ‘incase of injury’ depth piece.

The rest of the position players on the roster looks as it was when the Rays played the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series. Ji-Man Choi at first, Brandon Lowe at second, Willy Adames at short, and Yandy Diaz at the hot corner with Mike Brosseau, Joey Wendle, and Yoshi Tsutsugo rotating around various positions in platoon roles.

Then the outfield will consist of postseason legend, Randy Arozarena, along with 2019 All-Star Austin Meadows. Manuel Margot and Kevin Kiermaier will split time in center field.

The pitching staff was the hardest part of this exercise as the Rays have so many different options in camp.

As of now, the starting rotation projects to be Tyler Glasnow, Chris Archer, Michael Wacha, Rich Hill, and then Ryan Yarbrough. This leaves out 2020 upstart Josh Fleming and the prize piece of the Blake Snell trade, Luis Patino, both of whom will start the season with Triple-A.

While the bullpen consists of Nick Anderson, Diego Castillo, Pete Fairbanks, Cody Reed, and Collin McHugh. That leaves Kevin Cash with two spots to fill in the bullpen, with 13 pitchers that could realistically compete for those final spots.

As of now, I believe it will be Hunter Strickland and Shane McClanahan but this subject to change as I’ll be posting predictions at various points throughout the spring.

So how do you think the Rays Opening Day roster will stack up? Am I right? What would you change?