Tampa Bay Rays Roster Decisions on the Horizon

Apr 4, 2017; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Brad Boxberger (26) at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 4, 2017; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Brad Boxberger (26) at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

With Brad Boxberger and Wilson Ramos set to come off the disabled list this weekend, the Tampa Bay Rays will have some roster decisions to make.

Provided there are no setbacks in their final days of rehab, Brad Boxberger and Wilson Ramos are both set to be activated off the disabled list this coming weekend. Boxberger could rejoin the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday and Ramos on Sunday, which will give the team a much needed boost in the bullpen and another defensively.

The great thing is that the Tampa Bay Rays will improve without the need of making a trade. However, it also means that the Rays will need to part ways with a couple of players to accommodate Boxberger and Ramos and as well making some decisions concerning the overall roster.

The biggest boost to the roster will be the addition of Boxberger to the teams’ anemic bullpen. Having him back in the set-up role moves Danny Farquhar, Jumbo Diaz, Jose Alvarado back into the middle innings, where they are best suited. It also enables Chase Whitley to move into long relief. The Rays would then option either Ryan Garton and Austin Pruitt back to Durham.

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Garton has not been very effective (0-1, 8.71) in seven appearances logging 10.1 innings with nine strikeouts and five walks. However, he has given up 10 runs, all earned on 13 hits with a -0.4 WAR.

However, the bullpen is likely to undergo a mini-makeover with Boxberger’s return. Speculation on my part is that the Rays could designate Diaz, which is a move that I would make. He has made 24 appearances, blowing three saves in three opportunities.

The options are many that the Rays could do, the first is to return Alvarado back to the minors – either with Double-A Montgomery, the team in which he was promoted from or to Triple-A Durham. Alvarado has made 14 appearances, going 0-2 with a 5.29 ERA and though he has shown to be effective at times, he needs more seasoning.

Another change would be moving Erasmo Ramirez back to the bullpen, and using either Whitley or Pruitt as the fifth starter until a decision is made on a Blake Snell return or going with another top pitching prospect such as Brent Honeywell and sending Garton back to Durham. Whitley and Pruitt have been starters the majority of their career, and only this year have they been used exclusively in relief.

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The next area is the catching situation – will they keep Derek Norris or Jesus Sucre upon the return of Ramos? Norris provides more power, is familiar with opposing players, but shows little defense as evident by his six errors, which is tops among AL catchers.

Or do they stick with the light-hitting, though effective with runners in scoring position Sucre who provides strong defense, but most importantly is a good communicator and is liked by the pitching staff.

My gut take is that the Rays will depart with Norris and go with Sucre. With Sucre the Rays would have two strong defensive catchers, and offensively Ramos would essentially replace Norris in that department.

Another factor into departing with Norris is that there is a possibility he could be suspended by MLB baring the outcome of their investigation into the allegations of domestic abuse.

Next: Tampa Bay Rays Wilson Ramos Expected Back on Sunday

As for  Matt Duffy and Brad Miller returning to the lineup anytime soon, it will be a while. Duffy is still shut down from all baseball related activity, and Miller has not progressed enough to begin a rehab assignment.