Tampa Bay Rays: Adames, De Leon among First Set of Roster Cuts

Feb 18, 2017; Port Charlotte, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Willy Adames (27) poses for a photo during photo day at Charlotte Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 18, 2017; Port Charlotte, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Willy Adames (27) poses for a photo during photo day at Charlotte Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

The game clock is ticking down and the Tampa Bay Rays made their first set of roster cuts on Wednesday, with top prospects Willy Adames  and Jose De Leon among the 13 players sent to their minor league camp.

Tampa Bay Rays top prospect Willy Adames was among the 13 players that were sent minor league camp on Wednesday as the team prepares to put their roster together for the 2017 season.

Along with Adames and Jose De Leon, optioned to minor league camp since they are on the 40-man roster were pitchers Jacob Faria, Taylor Guerrieri, Chih-Wei Hu and Ryne Stanek. Re-assigned to minor league camp since they were all non-roster invitees were catchers Nick Ciuffo, Jonah Heim, first baseman Dalton Kelly and pitchers Ryan Yarbrough, Jeff Ames and infielder Ryan Brett.

In addition, the Rays released Dana Eveland who now becomes a free agent. Originally released at the conclusion of the 2016 season and re-signed to a minor league deal in October with an invitation to spring training, Eveland will now have the opportunity to catch on with another team. Rays manager Kevin Cash explained via Rays Radio that they (Rays) were not going to have room for him on their Durham roster.

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In the meantime, De Leon has left camp and is on his way to join team Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic. De Leon was added to the roster for the second round replacing pitcher Jenrry Mejia who was removed from Puerto Rico’s roster; this comes after Cash stated that De Leon was not going.

Speaking of rosters, the cuts reduced the spring roster down to 42 – and now, in the final 17 days of camp Cash and his staff must get that number down to 25. Between now and April 1(when the rosters are finalized), the reduction in camp will give Cash the opportunity to pay closer attention to those remaining, as the players will begin logging more innings.

There are still many position battles going on, specifically at the catcher and relief positions, and the need for another outfielder since it looks as though Colby Rasmus will begin the year on the DL because of his slow recovery back from offseason surgery.

At the catcher position, Curt Casali, Luke Maile and Jesus Sucre are locked up in a three-way battle and if you add Michael McKenry and possibly Derek Norris (should the Rays sign him) to the mix, well anything goes. Sucre is out of minor league options, and the Rays would need to add him onto the 40-man roster – this could be one factor is whether he makes the final roster. Casali more so than Maile is most likely to stick.

As for the bullpen, there are still a handful of candidates that are in the mix to join Brad Boxberger, Alex Colome, Xavier Cedeno and Erasmo Ramirez. Among those battling it out are Kevin Gadea (Rule 5 pick), Tommy Hunter (non-roster invitee), Jumbo Diaz, Shawn Tolleson, Jaime Schultz, Danny Farquhar, Chase Whitley, David Carpenter (non-roster invitee) and Justin Marks (non-roster invitee).

Gadea, Diaz, Whitley, Farquhar and Tolleson are all on the 40-man roster – again, depending on how everything plays out, specifically the health of Tolleson who is still experiencing issues with his back and could start the season on the DL, three spots remain open.

Assuming Tolleson is healthy, he sticks along with Whitley who could be used as a spot starter and would likely be used as the long-man or middle innings eater and Farquhar (out of minor league options).

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In order for Diaz to stick, he will need to turn around what has been a horrible spring, in which he has produced a skyrocket ERA of 9.00 to go along with a 0-2 record (three appearances) in three innings of work.

In his last game before leaving for the WBC, Diaz was knocked around giving up four runs on three hits to the Cubs, which included two eighth inning home runs.

Gadea’s situation is questionable as being a Rule 5 pick, either he remains on the 25-man roster all season, or is returned to the Mariners – however, he must first pass through waivers first.

Gadea has not pitched above Class-A so making the jump to the majors will be a difficult one, especially for the Rays. So far this spring, Gadea’s line in four appearances is a 0-1 record, with one save and an 8.31 ERA in 4.1 innings.

Farquhar has not been overly impressive this spring (0-0, 6.35 ERA, 5 appearances, 5.2-IP), and despite the ERA so far, he has however struck out five, throwing 31 of his 41 pitches for strikes and has held opposing batters to a .150 average. Though his experience at the major league level is a plus, he is out of options and remains as a back-end option to the bullpen.

With Rasmus a certainty to begin the season on the DL, and penciled in as the everyday leftfielder, Mallex Smith and Rickie Weeks Jr. are my locks to make the opening day roster. Speculation is that Smith will platoon with Corey Dickerson while Rasmus is unavailable and Weeks Jr., who is a non-roster invitee, makes the team as another versatile utility role-player.

Weeks is enjoying an outstanding spring for the Rays, and currently holds the team lead in home runs (3), RBIs (9) while slashing to a line of .500/.571/1.222 in eight games played. Weeks is not only providing the Rays with his versatility of being able to play the outfield and infield, but he is showing them how accomplished of a hitter he is even at 34-years-old.

With this said, here is my final breakdown of what the 25-man roster is most likely to be on Opening Day:

Pitchers (12): Matt Andriese, Chris Archer, Brad Boxberger, Xavier Cedeno, Alex Cobb, Alex Colome, Danny Farquhar, Jake Odorizzi, Erasmo Ramirez, Blake Snell, Shawn Tolleson and Chase Whitley

Catchers (2): Curt Casali and Jesus Sucre

Infielders (6): Tim Beckham, Evan Longoria, Brad Miller, Logan Morrison, Nick Franklin and Daniel Robertson. Matt Duffy (DL)

Outfielders (5): Corey Dickerson, Kevin Kiermaier, Mallex Smith, Steven Souza Jr. and Rickie Weeks.  Colby Rasmus (DL)

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Upon the return of Duffy, Daniel Robertson is optioned back to Triple-A Durham and once Rasmus is back, Mallex Smith heads to Triple-A Durham. To accommodate Sucre and Weeks on the 40-man roster, the Rays will waive Gadea and Diaz.