The 2012 offseason is nearing a close (after all, it’s already 2013), and the Rays have crossed off most of the things on their checklist. But with another couple weeks remaining until pitchers and catchers report, the Rays have a couple more objectives they would like to accomplish. As Marc Topkin talked about, the Rays have brought along Shelley Duncan and Jamey Wright to potentially play the roles of righty-hitting backup first baseman and outfielder and middle reliever respectively, but the Rays are likely still trying to find more players they can sign to low-risk contracts to create some competition in spring training and additional depth once the season begins. Could the Rays make a bigger move, say by signing Michael Bourn? The chances are much lower, but you never know what happens. Two years ago this month, the Rays executed the big Matt Garza deal. Could they pull off a similar surprise over the next couple of weeks?
In his column today, Buster Olney of ESPN discussed MLB players facing make-or-break years in 2013, and among the players mentioned were two Tampa Bay Rays, James Loney and Yunel Escobar, both of whom the Rays acquired this offseason. Loney looks to finally deliver on the potential he showed in the minor leagues and as a rookie for the Dodgers while Escobar will try to change his reputation as a terrible teammate and a player with all the talent to be an above-average major league shortstop but not the temperament. The Rays were able to acquire both Loney and Escobar on the cheap, not risking very much while realizing that the upside with both of them is significant. After disastrous situations at shortstop (before Ben Zobrist moved there) and first base in 2012, the Rays are confident that Loney and Escobar can give them at least a marginal improvement- and if they can come through on their potential, they have the ability to do a whole lot more.
Another player Rays fans will look forward to seeing next season is Rays top prospect Wil Myers, acquired in the James Shields trade. Andrew Astleford of Fox Sports Florida talked to Jim Callis and R.J. Anderson about Myers and the gist was that it’s only a matter of “when” not “if” for Myers, and with the move from the Royals organization to the Rays system taking a lot of pressure off of him, Myers has the ability to develop into a special player. Myers may not start 2013 with the Rays, but when he arrives it will be exciting to see what he can do.