Baseball is back, with opening day only six weeks away. The Rays start their season at home on March 30th against the Detroit Tigers, and there is a lot of excitement surrounding this team. Although they traded away Ji Man Choi (and lost Zunino and Kiermaier to free agency), the team returns a strong core from a year ago. This core includes a stout starting rotation and one of the best young position players in Wander Franco. But who will be with the team on opening day? While the Rays have invited 80 players to their spring training camp, here are the players that I think will make it onto the opening day roster:
1. Pitchers (13)
Shane McClanahan, Tyler Glasnow, Jeffrey Springs, Zach Eflin, and Drew Rasmussen are all locked in as starters and should form one of the league’s most formidable rotations. In the bullpen, Jason Adam, Pete Fairbanks, and Colin Poche are destined to have prominent roles after their success last season. As for the rest of the bullpen, Garrett Cleavinger, Ryan Thompson, Shawn Armstrong, and Jalen Beeks should have no issues making the roster. That leaves one roster spot. Beeks could serve as the primary long reliever or spot starter, but I have a feeling the Rays will want to use him as another left-handed arm out of the bullpen. Because of this, chilies get the final spot. Kevin Kelly would be the frontrunner for the final spot if they want another late-inning option.
2. Position Players (13)
Just like with the pitcher’s group, most of the spots on the Rays' roster for position players are locked up. Christian Bethancourt and Francisco Mejia will be the catchers. Yandy Diaz, Wander Franco, Brandon Lowe, Isaac Paredes, and Taylor Walls will be the infielders on the team. In the outfield, the Rays will have Randy Arozarena, Manuel Margot, Jose Siri, Luke Raley, and Harold Ramirez (although he will serve primarily as the team’s DH). That leaves one spot that will likely come down to Vidal Brujan and Josh Lowe. Brujan can play all over the infield and outfield, but Lowe can provide a much-needed left-handed power bat. I think the team ultimately chooses Lowe for the final spot on the opening day roster.