A Final Prediction for Tampa Bay Rays’ Opening Day Roster
By Robbie Knopf
We know that it’s coming: the Tampa Bay Rays’ Opening Day roster. After months of discussion from anyone remotely associated with the Rays and a few weeks of games, Kevin Cash said that he will announce the Rays’ roster following the team’s game today. We have made a variety of predictions, some right and some wrong, and we will have to see how this next one does. Here is our last guess about what the Rays’ roster will look like.
Starting Pitchers (5): Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi, Nate Karns, Erasmo Ramirez, and Matt Andriese
This is the easy part–the only real question is whether Andriese will begin the season on the Rays’ roster on arrive on April 14th. I will say that he will start the season on the roster because he would be much more valuable to the Rays than an extra middle reliever. After all, all of the bullpen arms are fresh to begin the season, and the only time the Rays would be in trouble would be in case of a short start. Andriese could certainly help with that.
Relief Pitchers (7): Brad Boxberger, Kevin Jepsen, Grant Balfour, Ernesto Frieri, Jeff Beliveau, Kirby Yates, Steve Geltz
The first five have looked like locks for a while, and maybe Yates should have been as well. He pitched well for the Rays for most of last season, and the fact that he didn’t pitch much in September may have been more about a minor injury or the Rays wanting to see other guys. He is a solid middle reliever against right-handed pitching, and the Rays look forward to seeing him in such a role.
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Geltz will be the long reliever, at least once Andriese begins starting, and that seems a little strange. After all, guys like C.J. Riefenhauser, Everett Teaford, and Brandon Gomes have a better track record of providing length. However, Riefenhauser needs more Triple-A time after a rough stretch in the middle of last season and neither Teaford nor Gomes is worth adding to the 40-man roster for just a few weeks. After all, a bullpen spot will disappear when Jake McGee returns.
Catchers (2): Rene Rivera and Bobby Wilson
Curt Casali has looked better than Wilson this spring, but he looked mediocre at Triple-A last year and needs a few more at-bats at the level. He will almost surely replace Wilson at some point, but they have a clear incentive to send him down to Triple-A for a time if they have an open 40-man roster spot. It sure looks like they will.
It also isn’t as though Wilson will be splitting time down the middle with Rivera. Rivera is going to be the starting catcher–as foreign as that term is for Rays fans–and Wilson will only be playing a couple of times a week. The Rays will see if they can survive with him for a few weeks, and if not, Casali will get the call.
Infielders (5): Evan Longoria, Asdrubal Cabrera, James Loney, Logan Forsythe, Tim Beckham
Tim Beckham versus Jake Elmore is a discussion worth having, but it makes sense for Beckham to be the Rays’ pick. We always knew that he had higher upside at the plate, especially against right-handed pitching, and that is the deciding factor. He could take at-bats from Logan Forsythe against righties and James Loney versus lefties (with Forsythe moving to first base).
Elmore is an interesting player, but he is a true 25th man and the Rays don’t have room for such a player right now. The discussion would be a lot more interesting if Franklin was healthy and David DeJesus had already been traded. Instead, Elmore will head to Triple-A and see if his services are desired at a later date.
Outfielders (5): Kevin Kiermaier, Desmond Jennings, Steven Souza, Brandon Guyer, David DeJesus
The fact that DeJesus hasn’t been traded applies that he will be on the roster. We will have to see if and then a deal will be worked out. His presence also prompts the question of whether Souza should be on the roster, but it really should be irrelevant. If the Rays think that Souza is a deserving major league player–and all the indications are that they see him as such–DeJesus will not affect that.
If will be tough for the Rays to find regular at-bats for DeJesus, but he will provide depth in case of injury or poor performance from the outfielders or John Jaso. He will also certainly have his share of pinch-hitting opportunities replacing guys like Forsythe, Beckham, and Bobby Wilson. The Rays would rather deal him and carry a cheaper and more versatile player, but having as good of a hitter as DeJesus off the bench certainly has its advantages as well.
Designated Hitter (1): John Jaso
With that, there is your 2015 Tampa Bay Rays Opening Day roster, or at least how are projecting it. Look out in the next one to three hours to see what the roster truly is and how accurate our picks were.
UPDATE: We did indeed get every pick right.