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Tampa Bay Rays: Five Veteran Players on the Bubble

By David Egbert
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The Tampa Bay Rays are adamant of getting back into contention in 2017 and with that comes tough decisions regarding veterans that could be on the proverbial bubble for a roster spot.

For a team that had as much turmoil as the 2016 Tampa Bay Rays, it’s amazing that at least sixteen players are assured of their job on the 2017 25-man roster. However, there are at least five other players of veteran status that are “on the bubble.”

Let’s take a look at those players and see if any of them will survive off season moves and the spring training cut.

Drew Smyly:  Smyly is really an enigma. In his career with the Detroit Tigers, he was effective but not spectacular as a starter and a reliever. Since he came over to the Rays in the David Price deal, both his health and performance have been up and down as a middle of the rotation starter.

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In the end, Smyly has a solid career 31-27 record with a 3.74 era and 1.199 whip but the real kicker is that he will probably receive $7.0 million in arbitration this off-season. That is a bit much for the starting pitching rich Tampa Bay Rays and he will probably move along in a trade.

Enny Romero: When the 2016 season started, both Alex Colome and Romero were seen as terrific young arms in the bullpen. Colome went on to be an All-Star closer and Romero struggled through most of the season.

Romero’s career numbers aren’t encouraging with a 5.27 era, 81 strikeouts and 45 walks in 80 innings. The Rays will give him another chance in spring training but he clearly has to show more progress or he will be gone.

Bobby Wilson: Wilson had somewhat of a breakout year at 33-years of age with three teams including the Tampa Bay Rays. He posted a .237/.270/.355 slash line, and while those are hardly All-Star numbers, they’re way better than his .214/.268/.319 career numbers.

The Rays like his defensive skills but he’s not the answer to their long term catching needs. Through arbitration, he’s up for a $1.0 million guaranteed contract and the Rays probably won’t go for anything but a minor league deal.

Tim Beckham: Beckham is a puzzling player. After years in the minors, it looked like he was in line for at least a utility infielder job. Then Beckham committed a number of base running blunders and was exiled to Durham and has not returned.

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He has terrific power and is an okay infielder but it appears his days with the Rays are done. Look for him to be included in an off-season trade.

Nick Franklin: Franklin was a disappointment during two years at Seattle and in his first two years with the Rays.

Somewhere in the middle of his third season with the Rays, he broke out finishing this season as a super utility man with a .270/.328/.443 slash line in 174 at bats.

Before we call him the second coming of Ben Zobrist, we have to remember that his career slash line is .219/.288/.374. He’ll need a solid spring training to back up his 2016 numbers and keep his place on the 25-man roster.

Matt Silverman and Kevin Cash need to make the right moves on these players and they can’t afford to make many mistakes. In addition, there will also be battles for outfield, DH, catcher and relief pitcher roster spots. Trades and minor league prospects will fill many of those spots.

Next: Tampa Bay Rays Rumors: Mets, Yankees onto Smyly

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However, don’t expect the Rays to sign a lot of free agents to guaranteed contracts because they just don’t have the money. It’s a tough spot for Silverman and Cash.

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