The Tampa Bay Rays are trying to do the best they can with the players they have following the injuries to Matt Moore, Alex Cobb, and Jeremy Hellickson. But let’s be honest–the 25 players the Rays have on their roster right now are not the best 25 if their only goal was to win games this season. I proposed the following hypothetical to six of our writers here at Rays Colored Glasses: if you could pick the best 25-man roster for the Rays right now, who would you choose? The rules were that every player who is currently injured is still injured, but they could feel free to ignore money owed to players, players who could use more development time, and the fact that any out-of-options player not on the roster would be lost to waivers. With that in mind, here are the results of the survey.
Picked on All 6 Rosters (20): David Price, Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi, Cesar Ramos, Grant Balfour, Joel Peralta, Jake McGee, Brandon Gomes, Juan Carlos Oviedo, Ryan Hanigan, Jose Molina, Evan Longoria, Yunel Escobar, Ben Zobrist, James Loney, Wil Myers, Desmond Jennings, David DeJesus, Matt Joyce
Overall, 32 players received votes, and every player on the current 25-man roster received a vote except for one: Brandon Guyer. Guyer going unselected cannot be a surprise–he is a talented player but has done nothing for the Rays so far this season. Among the 20 unanimous picks, the only real surprise has to Oviedo. He is still working his way back into form, but he apparently showed enough promise in his first two outings for RCG writers to believe he is a worthwhile member of the bullpen. It is also worth noting that Ramos was picked to be the fourth starter by everyone.
If you had to guess the player not on the roster who would receive the most votes, Kiermaier was the odds-on favorite. He is the player who should be playing Guyer’s role–the only reason he isn’t on the roster is because the Rays believe he has the ability to start games with more seasoning at Triple-A. Right behind Kiermaier were Boxberger and Montgomery. Boxberger possesses looked very good in his limited big league trial while Montgomery has done everything possible to work his way into the Rays’ fifth starter discussion. Three of the four writers who picked Montgomery had him as the Rays’ fifth starter–the other three picked his Durham teammate Andriese. The one writer who listed Bedard had him as a reliever as everyone was in agreement that the Rays needed to make a change at the back end of their rotation.
Just one writer listed both Rodriguez and Forsythe as options for the Rays’ bench, with everyone else agreeing that they had to add a more talented hitter. Sands has gotten off to an incredible start at Triple-A while Betemit is older but with a better big league track record. They joined Andriese as the only players not on the 40-man roster who received votes, but it is worth noting that the Rays have an open spot there and could add either one of them easily if they chose.
Finally, we have the four players on the roster (aside from Guyer), who almost no one has belief in: Bell, Forsythe, Bedard, and Lueke. Bell is making $5.5 million this season but has wound up pitching in low-pressure situations and struggling nevertheless. Forsythe has a minor league option, and you have to wonder how long it is before the Rays considering losing it. Bedard was handed a starting spot but has shown no reason he should keep it. Finally, Lueke is on the roster because he is out of options but seems to falter every time the Rays give him the ball. Bell is the least likely of the quartet to go because of his salary, but how long is it until the Rays part with one of the other three?
It is a little frustrating to know that the Tampa Bay Rays’ roster could be better than it is, but we also see that there are other options available and the Rays will be resorting to some of them before long. Which 25-man roster do you think would help the Rays win the most games this season? Respond in the comments and we may even add your results to what we came up with here in a future piece if we get enough feedback.