An Early Prediction for the Tampa Bay Rays’ 25-Man Roster


Last week’s acquisitions of Grant Balfour and Logan Forsythe mean that the Rays are probably done making major league moves this offseason. Of course, a David Price trade can’t be completely discounted, but it does look like Price will be with the Rays in 2014 to headline starting rotation. The Rays could sign another reliever, but most likely we will just see minor league depth signings from here on out. With the Rays being largely set, here is an early crack at what the Rays’ 25-man roster will look like come opening day.

Starting Pitchers

1. David Price

2. Matt Moore

3. Alex Cobb

4. Chris Archer

5. Jeremy Hellickson

This rotation is pretty much guaranteed if none of the five get injured. The Rays also have Jake Odorizzi  in line for competition’s sake, but he probably does not have a realistic chance of cracking the opening day roster. When injury or poor performance inevitably occurs, though, he will be the first pitcher out of Triple-A. The Rays’ once again will have a strong rotation in 2014, and a rebound from Jeremy Hellickson could make it scary.

Relief Pitchers

6. Grant Balfour

7. Jake McGee

8. Joel Peralta

9. Heath Bell

10. Juan Carlos Oviedo

11. Brad Boxberger

12. Josh Lueke

The Rays bullpen is what was most affected by the transactions of last week. Balfour, McGee, Peralta, and Bell are all locks for the relief and Oviedo is too as long as he proves he is healthy. Of the remaining candidates, Boxberger seems an easy choice to me because of his solid stuff and success in limited time in the major leagues. Lueke is a tougher choice, but I think he gets the nod over guys like Cesar RamosMark Lowe, Brandon Gomes, and Kirby Yates. Lueke has tantalized with his potential, having the stuff to be a closer, but he has also been wildly inconsistent in the big leagues. He will be out of options, so I think the Rays will give him one more shot rather than expose him to waivers right out of spring training.

Position Players

13. Evan Longoria

14. Yunel Escobar

15. Ben Zobrist

16. James Loney

17. Ryan Hanigan

18. Jose Molina

19. David DeJesus

20. Desmond Jennings

21. Wil Myers

22. Sean Rodriguez

23. Matt Joyce

24. Brandon Guyer

25. Logan Forsythe

All of the guys on this list are guarantees except for Guyer and Forsythe. Of the two, I believe Guyer will make the opening day roster if he is healthy in spring training and does not look absolutely terrible at the plate. Kevin Kiermaier could come out of nowhere in spring training and claim the final outfield spot, but the Rays will give him a chance to keep developing at Triple-A and become more than a 4th outfielder. The utility man competition, meanwhile, will likely come down to Forsythe and Jayson Nix. Of the two, Forsythe has more upside, but he did struggle at the plate in 2013 (although Nix is not too inspiring at the plate either). Nix was brought in on a minor league deal, so he can be sent to the minors. However, he can opt-out of his deal if a major league opportunity arises, or he can opt-out on June 1st. Forsythe, on the other hand, can be sent to the minors the whole year without risk of being lost. Because of this, the Rays could keep Nix on the big league roster and send Forsythe to the minors to keep depth intact. Ultimately, though, I think the upside of Forsythe will outweigh depth issues.

Overall, the Rays’ roster looks very good going into 2014, and features enough talent to make a serious World Series run. Of course, this roster could still change in the coming weeks before the end of spring training. Injuries are always a possibility. You can’t completely discount a Price trade, which would likely have a significant impact on the 25-man roster. Jose Lobaton seems like a lock to be traded at one point or another, which also could potentially bring back a major league piece.  Also, the Rays could sign another player or two to a major league deal, although at this point that does not seem too likely. Overall, however, I think this is a good representation of how the Rays 25-man roster looks at this point, and fans have every reason to be excited.