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Tampa Bay Rays: Which 15 Players to Protect in an Expansion Draft

ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 07: Charlie Morton #50 of the Tampa Bay Rays delivers a pitch against the Houston Astros during the first inning in Game Three of the American League Division Series at Tropicana Field on October 07, 2019 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Chris O'Meara - Pool/Getty Images)
ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 07: Charlie Morton #50 of the Tampa Bay Rays delivers a pitch against the Houston Astros during the first inning in Game Three of the American League Division Series at Tropicana Field on October 07, 2019 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Chris O'Meara - Pool/Getty Images) /
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Colin Poche of the Tampa Bay Rays (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

Tampa Bay Rays Protected Players – Jose Alvarado

We give him a pass for last season as he was dealing with some family issues. That is all resolved and the expectation is that he returns to 2018 form. When he’s on he’s one of the absolute best left-handed relievers in the game of baseball.

Tampa Bay Rays Protected Players – Colin Poche

He’s a special reliever. He’s got future closer written all over him. I’m locking an elite-level player down over Chirinos and Yarbrough. Especially with all of the starting pitching talent in the pipeline. This will also lock down three elite-relievers in the league’s best bullpen from 2019.

Tampa Bay Rays Protected Players – Yandy Diaz

Diaz had a breakout 2019 season that has been well documented. Yandy has always been a guy who hits it as hard as anyone, but he hits it on the ground. This has been productive as a contact hitter. While he put the ball in the air a lot more last season, he still posted a GB% over 50. His flyball rate went up but his average and on-base went down. He did hit for more power than he has ever done at any level. He’s no lock, but the potential is there. The main reason I chose Yandy as the final pick is right-handed hitting.

The Rays are absolutely loaded with versatile left-handed hitters that can play all over the field. Brian O’Grady, Nate Lowe, and Yoshi Tsutsugo are all capable of playing more than one position with O’Grady and Tsutsugo playing both infield and outfield. The Rays were already in need of a right-handed bat when they traded for Jose Martinez and Randy Arozarena from the Cardinals. I kept Yandy over Jose due to his ability to play defense at both first and third.

Next. Top Five First-Round Draft Picks. dark

Remember, they can only take one player from us in the first round. These are the 15 I would protect. What would you have done differently?

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