Rays News

Projecting the Rays Opening Day roster ahead of spring training

By Jimmy Goodman
ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 14: A detailed view of a Tampa Bay Rays hat and catching glove is seen on a dugout step during the sixth inning of the MLB game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 14, 2019 in Anaheim, California. The Rays defeated the Angels 3-1. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 14: A detailed view of a Tampa Bay Rays hat and catching glove is seen on a dugout step during the sixth inning of the MLB game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 14, 2019 in Anaheim, California. The Rays defeated the Angels 3-1. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit
4 of 6
ARLINGTON, TEXAS – OCTOBER 25: Austin Meadows #17 of the Tampa Bay Rays reacts after striking out against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the ninth inning in Game Five of the 2020 MLB World Series at Globe Life Field on October 25, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. Meadows largely struggled in both the regular and postseason in 2020 and will look to bounce back this year. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TEXAS – OCTOBER 25: Austin Meadows #17 of the Tampa Bay Rays reacts after striking out against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the ninth inning in Game Five of the 2020 MLB World Series at Globe Life Field on October 25, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. Meadows largely struggled in both the regular and postseason in 2020 and will look to bounce back this year. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

Outfield

Randy Arozarena

In the simplest terms, no one has ever had a postseason quite like Randy Arozarena did in 2020. While his accomplishments, such as an MLB postseason record 10 homers and 29 hits, hardly need to be repeated, Arozarena projects as the Rays best bat for 2021 while still clocking in as high as fourth on Fangraphs top prospects list.

Randy is poised to continue his breakout party as a full-time major leaguer this season.

Kevin Kiermaier

Still arguably the best defensive player in Major League Baseball, Rays pitchers can sleep soundly at night knowing Kevin Kiermaier will be patrolling center field again this season. After a couple of outright poor seasons at the plate in 2018 and 2019, KK managed to stabilize as a near league average bat while ranking 5th among all MLB center fielders in Outs Above Average.

Manuel Margot

Another excellent fielder with an inclination for clutch postseason play, Manuel Margot lasted longer than his fellow former Padre Hunter Renfroe. Margot managed to finish in the 82nd percentile in OAA while tying a career high in OPS+. In the playoffs, Margot boasted an .895 OPS and hit more homers (5) in those 19 games than he managed in 47 regular season games (1).

Assuming Margot can put together a more complete campaign in the regular season, he profiles as an everyday corner outfielder with a plus glove.

Austin Meadows

After lighting it up in 2019, Austin Meadows‘ season was largely derailed by a core injury that seemed to impact his game throughout the playoffs as well. After a .922 OPS output in 2019 that led to an All-Star appearance in his first full major league season, Meadows behaved like a below average hitter in the pandemic shortened season.

In the playoffs, he was all but shutout in the ALCS and World Series going a combined 5-38 without a homer or RBI to his name. With the benefit of a full offseason of rest and recovery as well as a proper spring training, there’s hope that Meadows regains his sensational form.

Yoshi Tsutsugo

In the offseason ahead of the 2020 season, the Rays made an unusually aggressive move in acquiring a foreign free agent. Despite working against common Tampa Bay strategy of buy low sell high, the team signed Yoshi Tsutsugo to a two-year, $12 million contract with an eye towards tapping into the incredible power numbers he proved in Japan.

Through one season, a year in which Yoshi struck out 27% of the time but achieved a moderately respectable 97 OPS+, the returns aren’t awfully impressive. That said, as hectic as 2020 was for any player it’s hard to imagine someone with a road much tougher than Yoshi’s. Here’s to hoping a more normal season boosts his play to at least near-NPB numbers.

facebooktwitterreddit