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Rays Next-in-line Players, Position-by-Position

matgermain
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Mar 31, 2015; Port Charlotte, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Daniel R. Robertson (80) hits a three-run home run during the second inning against the Boston Red Sox at Charlotte Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Rays don’t have the budget to go out and grab whomever they want in order to improve. Thankfully, they’ve amassed some intriguing prospects that are near MLB ready and could pack a punch in 2016.

Everyone’s wondering when the deal for Javier Baez – or another bat – will take place as the Rays presumably continue to dangle pitching throughout MLB. I don’t really feel the same way since in my estimation, the Rays may be better off keeping the pitching depth they have and using it like a series of well oiled cannons. Such an advantage in the American League goes a long way, as last year proved. With a slightly more potent offensive team and healthier arms, the Rays could have pulled off a major upset.

Did you read the last part right? Healthier arms? And therein lies the conundrum. Everyone somehow believe the Rays have a ton of arms, but in truth, the innings they could provide in 2016 add up to 1 solid rotation. Matt Moore, Alex Cobb, and Drew Smyly are not going to give the Rays 200 innings in 2016. Therefore, I don’t understand the rush to trade pitching.

Instead, I suggest they keep the pitching and hope the young arms they have in the minors can reinforce them as required. Where I see the improvement with this team is in 5 specific areas:

  1. Steven Souza will provide a boost in RF
  2. Curt Casali and Hank Conger will provide a boost at C
  3. Desmond Jennings and Mikie Mahtook will provide a boost in LF
  4. Richie Shaffer will be a boon at 1B/3B/DH
  5. Pitching health assisted by depth

Those are the improvements that should give the Rays a fair shot to continue competing in the AL. However, should they falter, they also have a significant high-end prospect ready to hop in at every position. In each case, I believe that player could be the difference maker for the Rays. As we saw with the Astros and Cubs this season, teams can depend a lot more on their top prospects to come out shining than ever before.

Here are the high-end prospects covering each position for the Rays.

Next: First up is a defensive specialist with pop

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