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Tampa Bay Rays: Prospects Dilemma on 40-man, Rule 5

By Althea Pashman
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Tough decisions coming for the Tampa Bay Rays, as they must decide which players they will add to their 40-man roster.

All of baseball and the Tampa Bay Rays have until Friday to declare which of their prospects they will add to the 40-man roster, protecting them from the Rule 5 Draft next month at the Winter Meetings in Maryland.

The Rays dilemma with two days until the deadline is that they currently have only four open roster spots available at this time, and have a plethora of top prospects that are highly regarded and need to be protected.

It will be a Catch-22 for some that will be left unprotected and available for selection by the 29 other teams in the Rule 5 Draft.

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Tampa Bay tends to do things a bit differently than most clubs because of their financial restraints. Therefore, when it comes to protecting players they factor in the importance of how the player is in both short and long-term to the success of the organization.

On the flip-side, if left unprotected what is the likelihood that the player will remain at the major league level with their new team for the entire season.

An example to shed some light is last year the Tampa Bay Rays lost two players in the Rule 5 Draft – Tyler Goeddel (Phillies) and Joey Rickard (Orioles). Both players played the entire season in the majors in 2016. Overall, only three other players that were selected stayed in the majors all season.

In the case of the Rays, VP/GM Eric Neander and Senior VP Chaim Bloom along with other members within the baseball operations department and scouting department will be looking at a long-term scenario.

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As mentioned, as of this writing the Rays have only four open spots on their 40-man roster. In order to gain more openings they will need to designated players for assignment and or trade players off the 40-man roster.

Speculation on my part is that the Rays will designate Tim Beckham, Taylor Motter and Ryan Brett for assignment, and look to trade Enny Romero, Steve Geltz.

If this scenario is accomplished by Friday’s deadline, than the Tampa Bay Rays will have nine available roster spots. From a realistic standpoint, it is safe to say that the Rays will only be able to protect five. Here are my selections:

The Top 5:  Must Protect

1. Willy Adames (SS), 2. Chih-Wei Hu (RHP) 3. Daniel Robertson (INF), 4. Jaime Schultz (RHP), 5. Ryne Stanek (RHP)

On The Bubble

Austin Pruitt (RHP), Jose Alvarado (LHRP), Hunter Wood (RHP), Johnny Fields (OF)

Beckham has no minor league options remaining and Motter has two. After the way the 2016 season ended with both players not getting a September call-up, I doubt either stays.

According to Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com, via MLB Pipeline he tweets his Rays Top 30 prospects that need to be protected to avoid being exposed to the Rule 5 Draft:

Brett has two options remaining and could be placed on the 60-day DL, as he will be rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, which he underwent last May. He does add depth up the middle; however, his timetable to return is unknown.

Romero is out of options and his poor showing this past season will hurt the chances of a prospect being protected. As for Geltz, after appearing in 71 games during the 2015 season, where he was one of the team’s most reliable relievers, 2016 was just the opposite. Although he does have one option remaining, like Romero keeping him will prevent protection for a prospect.

Next: Tampa Bay Rays: Prospects That Could Make the 25-Man Roster

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The bottom line is that while the organizational depth the Rays have is encouraging, the opportunity for some of their prospects to get to the majors unfortunately will be with other teams.

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