What the Tampa Bay Rays’ Roster Might Look Like in 2018
By David Egbert
Every year until 2014, Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook published a future roster for each team. They speculated about what the team might look like four years out. For some reason they stopped the exercise last year, but I am going to pick up the task and talk about what the Tampa Bay Rays’ 2018 roster might look like.
As we have no idea about future trades and free agent signings, the roster will be composed of players currently on the 40-man roster or in the Rays’ minor league system. Without further ado, here’s my projected 2018 Tampa Bay Rays roster.
Starting Pitchers: Alex Cobb, Matt Moore, Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi, Drew Smyly
This is essentially keeping the band together. Everyone except Cobb is under team control through 2018 and there is a good chance that he can be signed to an extension. If the total rotation gets to be too expensive, they can trade one of them and move a pre arbitration pitcher such as Taylor Guerrieri into the rotation.
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Bullpen: Jake McGee, Brad Boxberger, Alex Colome, Nate Karns, Burch Smith, Ryne Stanek, Jeff Beliveau
The key here is to extend McGee, who is a free agent in 2018. Triple-A starters Colome, Karns, and Smith would be an awesome set of hard-throwers from the right side. Stanek, the Rays’ second first rounder from 2013, also has the ability to join them. On the left side, meanwhile, Beliveau is coming off a great season and is the current favorite for a long-term role. If not him, C.J. Riefenhauser, Mike Montgomery, and Enny Romero could also be options.
Catchers: Justin O’Conner, Curt Casali
O’Connor should be the first homegrown starting catcher for the franchise since they changed their name from the Devil Rays to the Rays. O’Connor’s hitting and defense are improving to along with his cannon for an arm. Curt Casali has also shown a nice defensive skill-set and should be an excellent backup. If not, Luke Maile is another option.
Infield: Casey Gillaspie, Ryan Brett, Daniel Robertson, Evan Longoria
The choice at first base is a tough one as former number one pick Richie Shaffer and Jake Bauers are in the mix and more advanced than Gillaspie. However, I’m betting Gillaspie turns on the jets and moves past them. Brett and Robertson are pretty safe bets at second base and shortstop but Willy Adames or a resurgent Hak-Ju Lee may well get one of the jobs. Finally, with a very reasonable $13 million salary, Longoria will remain a Ray.
Outfield: Kevin Kiermaier, Steven Souza, Mikie Mahtook
This is a pretty easy one unless Brandon Guyer ups his game. The are not many top outfield prospects in the Rays system but a middle infielder such as Andrew Velazquez may end up in center field. One interesting option could be Nick Franklin, who could play a super-utility role and start all over the place against right-handed pitching.
For the four bench spots, I like John Jaso (contract extension), Franklin, Richie Shaffer, and Brandon Guyer. Of course, Tim Beckham or any number of Rays minor league players could end up taking these jobs.
This is my 2018 Tampa Bay Rays fantasy team. It is fantasy because trades, injuries, or simply players not being able to make the jump from Triple-A to the majors could change the look of this roster. All of those disclaimers aside, it’s still nice to know that recent drafts and trades have put the Rays in a position to field a talented team such as this one.