As is the case every off-season, the well stocked Rays system has various prospects that are strong contenders for a major league roster, and Tuesday Nov. 14 is the deadline to protect those prospects by putting them on the 40-man roster.
In other words, trades could be incoming! Ahead of tonight’s 6 PM EST deadline, here are five pitchers the Rays will need to consider protecting or trading.
Yoniel Curet, RHP
Easily missed on Top-30 prospect lists, Curet is a power pitcher who finally made his full-season debut in 2022 and has shown he can keep his velo above 95 in starts. He has yet to test his breaking balls in Double-A, so he’s far from major league ready, but given his 2019 signing date, a decision needs made on if he’s going on a team’s 40-man roster.
Anthony Molina, RHP
An arm flagged by Marc Topkin at the Tampa Bay Times as a Rule 5 candidate, Molina was promoted to Triple-A as a starter mid-2023 was even invited to work with the big league starters last Spring Training. He held his own after the promotion with a 4.02 FIP in his age-21 season. His hard sinker runs up to 97 mph, and he has a changeup that should play at the major league level as well. If the Rays don’t trade or protect him, he’s a prime candidate to get taken in the Rule 5 draft.
Evan Reifert, RHP
The trade return for Mike Brosseau, Reifert is a relief prospect with a 70-grade slider and a fastball that was sitting 95 when he dominated the Arizona Fall League in 2022. He reported to Double-A with a shoulder issue in 2023 that lasted until the end of the season. He made nine appearances across High-A and the Florida Complex League, but those results should not be considered. He’s got projection to a major league bullpen, but a last year likely means he’s safe for now.
Read More: Rays Prospect Evan Reifert Has a Wipeout Slider - David Laurila, FanGraphs
Ian Seymour, LHP
A breakout prospect in 2021, Seymour needed Tommy John in 2022 and returned in 2023 to throw 42.0 innings, including two starts at High-A and one start at Double-A. Seymour is curiously in the FanGraphs top-20 but not on Baseball America’s list. I expect the Rays to find a way to protect him ahead of the deadline.
Cole Wilcox, RHP
If the Rays were only going to protect one prospect among those I’ve listed, this is the one. One of the Rays top arms needed Tommy John surgery and has since returned to pitching, even though his velo wasn’t all the way back yet. Wilcox was part of the return for Blake Snell after signing with the Padres for first round draft pick money.
RHP JJ Goss has four pitches that play and could probably run it up to 95-mph in relief. He struggled with walks and the longball in his age-22 season at High A. Similarly, RHP Ben Peoples has a plus curve and a fastball that also could reach upper 90-s in relief, if a team wants to take a chance.