Photo courtesy of rotoballer.com
By Ross Sutton
The Rays are coming off of a solid season in which the went 80-82, finishing third in the AL East. The Rays’ roster this upcoming season will be extremely different compared to last year. So far this offseason, the Rays have either traded or lost the following players in free agency: Evan Longoria (Giants), Steven Souza Jr. (Diamondbacks), Jake Odorizzi (Twins), Colby Rasmus (Orioles), Steve Cishek (Cubs), Lucas Duda (Royals), Logan Morrison (Twins), Tommy Hunter (Phillies) and Alex Cobb, who has not signed with another team yet but will almost definitely not be re-signing with the Rays. In a very surprising move, the Rays also designated 2017 all-star Corey Dickerson for assignment, allowing him to sign with the Pirates. The biggest of these offseason moves was trading franchise player Evan Longoria to the San Francisco Giants for a deal featuring Christian Arroyo and Denard Span. Longoria is the most important and popular player in franchise history so trading him away will leave the Rays searching for more leadership throughout the season. In addition to Arroyo and Span, the Rays were able to acquire Nick Solak and Anthony Banda in a three-team deal that sent Souza Jr. to the D-backs. The Rays also re-signed Sergio Romo, traded for C.J. Cron from the Angels, and signed veteran outfielder Carlos Gomez.
Due to all of the talented players the team has lost this offseason, the Rays will likely have a down year compared to last year. I also believe it is very likely that the Rays will attempt to trade their ace pitcher Chris Archer this season once the deadline approaches. Archer would have a lot of value on the trade market as he is one of the top pitchers in the game and is under team control through 2021 at a very low salary. Trading Archer would be an incredibly important move for the future of the Rays, as he should command some very talented prospects. The best returning offensive player for the Rays is center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, who is one of the best defensive center fielders in the game and hit .276 with 15 home runs and 16 stolen bases in 98 games last season. As the Rays start to rebuild, their fans should not expect much for the 2018 season. Since they lost so many of their best players, I believe that the Rays will struggle for a lot of the year and finish with a 68-94 record this year.
All stats courtesy of baseball-reference.com
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