Tampa Bay Rays: 2016-2017 Mock Off-Season Roster

With the offseason hot stove already up and running we thought it would be a good time to take a look at some possibilities on how the Tampa Bay Rays could improve their roster this off-season.

Please note that this is the off-season moves that I myself would do as opposed to what I believe the Tampa Bay Rays would actually do. I will not attempt to predict the 40-man roster but only the Opening Day 25 man active roster (barring injuries).

Maybe the moves the team will make will be similar to mine. So with that being said here’s my mock offseason for this winter for the Rays.

Guaranteed Contracts:

Arbitration- eligible players

*Note every player received a contract but Bobby Wilson who has already elected free agency

Alex Cobb (5.061) – $4.0 million
Drew Smyly (4.154) – $6.9 million
Erasmo Ramirez (3.158) – $3.5 million
Brad Boxberger (3.109) – $1.5 million
Corey Dickerson (3.101) – $3.4 million
Brad Miller (3.094) – $3.8 million
Xavier Cedeno (3.060) – $1.2 million
Jake Odorizzi (3.042) – $4.6 million
Danny Farquhar (2.168) – $1.1 million
Kevin Kiermaier (2.131) – $2.1 million

The Tampa Bay Rays have 3 pending Free Agents (Alexi Ramirez, Logan Morrison and Kevin Jepsen) and I wouldn’t resign any of them to a major league deal. If the Rays can negotiate a minor league deal for Kevin Jepsen to return that’s incentives based I would be in favor of that but most likely he’ll sign a major league deal elsewhere.

I would also DFA Steve Geltz, Ryan Brett and Eddie Gamboa. I would make an attempt at re-signing them to minor league deals but they should not be kept on the 40-man roster for now. John Lamb, who was recently acquired, will be placed on the 15-day DL. He would be optioned to Durham once he returns.

Free Agent Signings:

Javier Lopez (one year, $2.25 million):

The left-handed reliever is coming off of a poor season with the Giants but still was able to do what he’s always done best. Get lefties out. He’s a situational reliever that can be a real weapon for the Rays while allowing them to use Xavier Cedeno in multiple roles instead of as a specialist. The Rays also don’t have any relievers with his capabilities in Durham either.

Koji Uehara (one year, $5.5 million with an option for 2017 at $6.5 million or $1 million buyout)

Brad Ziegler would probably be a better target but I’m betting that he will probably be out of the Rays price range. Uehara would be a good option for high leverage outings. He could potentially take on any major role in the pen and he was extremely dominant against lefties last season, who hit only .139 against him.

His consistently strikes hitters out as he’s never had a season where he’s struck out less than 10 hitters per 9 innings (except for his rookie season). His ERA away from Fenway Park was 2.19 (as opposed to 4.84 at home) so the shift to the Trop should only enhance his abilities. The 41-year old reliever would be a nice boost to the Rays pen.

Steve Pearce (one year, $4 million plus incentives based on plate appearances)

It’s possible Pearce gets a better offer than this but I wouldn’t go any higher due to his injury concerns. He was a very useful bat for the Rays last season and definitely should be a guy to target for 2017 but only on a one year commitment. It’d be nice to have him back in a part time DH/utility role.

Ryan Hanigan (one year, $1.5 million)

I think bringing back the veteran catcher would be a savvy move for the Rays. In a part time/backup role I think he’d be a great fit. His 2015-2016 seasons have been filled with numerous injuries and have diminished his play especially from an offensive standpoint.

However, in 2014 his last healthy season he still put up a wRC+ of 90 and it’s conceivable that if he were to stay healthy he could be up something close to that which would be an improvement for the Rays from the catcher position.

He’s still been a solid defender behind the plate the last few seasons in limited playing time especially from a framing standpoint. Putting him in a backup role should also keep him healthy hopefully as well.

Rajai Davis (one year, $5.5 million)

I’ve wanted the Rays to add some speed to the roster awhile so here’s one way to do it. After playing a huge role in the crazy game seven of the World Series, Davis hits the market once again and the Rays should be a player on him.

Nobody on the Rays has the same ability on the base paths as Davis and he can still hit enough to be in a platoon role with Corey Dickerson. He was also a plus defender in left field and center field in 2016 so he can play multiple outfield spots if needed. Not to mention if he’s on the bench late in a game, his pinch running abilities could prove very handy.

Trades:

Rays get Derek Dietrich, Braxton Garrett, Luis Castillo and Isael Soto

Marlins get Jake Odorizzi, Erasmo Ramirez, Enny Romero and Taylor Motter

The Rays seem increasingly likely to deal a starter this offseason and I would too with it being a sellers market. I feel like this is the type of return that can benefit the Rays in 2017 and beyond to justify dealing a starter (or two).

By making this deal, the Marlins get two starting pitchers to help rebuild their rotation, a power left handed reliever that can hit triple digits on the gun and a utility player capable of playing almost every position. The Rays get a controllable, young left handed hitter (formerly drafted by the Rays). He’s hit right handed pitching very well in his first two full seasons and his versatility gives the Rays several ways they can utilize him to be able to use his bat.

Braxton Garrett was the seventh overall pick in the 2016 draft for a reason. The lefty has three potential plus pitches which makes him a potential top of the rotation arm. He’s a long way out but the payoff could be huge and the Rays have a solid track developing pitchers with arms like his.

Castillo is a potential mid rotation starter or a potential impact reliever with a fastball that can hit triple digits. Soto is a toolsy outfielder who played this past season in Low A ball. He’s kind of a lottery ticket but he’s got a nice skill set with potentially four above average tools. The Rays also get some financial savings from making this deal as well. I think this move makes sense from both sides.

Rays get Austin Barns, Imani Abdullah

Dodgers get Nick Franklin, Luke Maile

I’m going to take a shot at finding the Rays’ long term solution behind the plate. Barnes transitioned from an infielder to catcher a couple seasons ago and has blossomed defensively beyond the plate. His receiving ability has especially been seen as a plus. His bat should also play well for a catcher and he could be the answer they’ve been looking for.

The Rays would have him under control for the foreseeable future as well. Abdullah was in low-A this past season and could be a nice upside arm for them in the future. Nick Franklin gives the Dodgers a controllable infielder for the next several seasons who had a nice second half at the plate for the Rays. He could be the everyday 2nd basemen for LA in 2017 if his defense improves.

Maile would take the role of backup catcher for LA. It was difficult to give up Faria considering he has some nice upside and could be a breakout candidate this season but with the depth the Rays have they can withstand this loss. Finding a potential long term solution behind the plate comes at a cost but it could definitely pay off.

Final Roster

Potential Lineup vs RHP:

1- Forsythe 2B
2- Dietrich DH
3- Longoria 3B
4- Miller 1B
5- Duffy SS
6- Dickerson LF
7- Souza RF
8- Hanigan/Barnes C
9- Kiermaier CF

Bench – Pearce, Tim Beckham, Hanigan/Barnes, Davis

Potential Lineup vs LHP:

1- Forsythe 2B
2- Duffy SS
3- Longoria 3B
4- Pearce DH
5- Miller 1B
6- Souza RF
7- Davis LF
8- Hanigan/Barnes C
9- Kiermaier CF

Bench – Dietrich, Beckham, Barnes/Hanigan, Dickerson

Rotation:

1- Archer
2- Cobb
3- Smyly
4- Snell
5- Andriese

Bullpen:

Uehara
Colome
Boxberger
Cedeno
Lopez
Farquhar
Whitley

Payroll For Opening Day Roster:

Evan Longoria – $13 million
Logan Forsythe- $7 million
Chris Archer – $4.92 million
Alex Cobb – $4.0 million
Drew Smyly – $6.9 million
Steve Pearce – $4.25 million
Brad Boxberger – $1.5 million
Corey Dickerson – $3.4 million
Brad Miller – $3.8 million
Xavier Cedeno – $1.2 million
Koji Uehara – $5.5 million
Danny Farquhar  – $1.1 million
Kevin Kiermaier – $2.1 million
Ryan Hanigan- $1.5 Million
Javier Lopez- $2.25 million
Rajai Davis- $5.5 million
Tim Beckham- $550 K
Derek Dietrich- $550 K
Alex Colome– $550 K
Matt Duffy– $550 K
Austin Barnes- $550 K
Steven Souza Jr. – $550 K
Matt Andriese – $550 K
Chase Whitley– $550 K
Blake Snell– $550 K
=$72,870,000

Overall I think the moves that I’ve made have definitely upgraded the roster for 2017 at a reasonable cost. The bullpen looks much improved top to bottom and the Rays might finally have a long term solution behind the plate.

Add in the additions of Dietrich and Davis and I think the lineup got better as well. With the payroll being only at roughly $73 million there’s still some wiggle room to make a move mid-season if need be which is important. We’ll see if the subtractions of Odorizzi, Ramirez and Faria loom large but I think the Rays depth can withstand it.

Taylor Guerrieri, Brett Honeywell and Chih-Wei Hu are also going to be knocking on the door of being in the big league rotation soon enough as well. The prospects I’ve added to the system (Garrett, Soto, Castillo and Abdullah) should also help the farm system improve as well.

Mikie Mahtook, Richie Shaffer and Curt Casali will all start the season in Durham and could also play big roles on this roster at some point too. If there’s one area I wish I could’ve improved a bit more it would’ve been to get another impact, middle of the order bat. Those are generally hard to come by though and usually cost more than the Rays can pay.

But I think with Brad Miller’s emergence as a middle of the order threat, the addition of Dietrich, possible improvements from Dickerson and Souza and having a full season of Matt Duffy the offense will improve.

Plus you hope to get a bit more offense from the catching position. I think this is a team that should compete in 2017 and beyond.

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So what are everyone’s thoughts? How do you think I did?

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