The Rays are coming off of a quick postseason exit, and with a very quiet offseason so far through January, many questions arise as to the direction and future of this team going forward.
Beyond just the team, however, there are some players about whom big questions come up when looking at them heading into the '23 season, creating some interesting possible storylines.
While most people would consider the Rays to be in a "hold still" type of mindset in terms of their team structure, these are five players who come into the season with those "big questions" that could change that structure and direction for this year.
1) Tyler Glasnow
Glasnow has been talked about a lot here on this site, but he is one of the big question marks for the Rays heading into 2023.
There are two real main questions that Rays fans should look for when it comes to Tyler Glasnow coming into the year, and they are: What form of Glasnow will we get? And, will the Rays cash in on Glasnow?
Those are serious questions to answer, and we may find out both at the same time. If Glasnow comes back to his Cy Young-caliber form, don't be surprised if a Glasnow trade comes later down the road before the deadline.
With Glasnow's big contract scheduled to hit in 2024, the Rays may try to cash out this season, but with the direction of the team still at bay, the team may have other plans, which will make for an interesting season for the ace.
2) Zach Eflin
Eflin is another player whose major question is performance, and he will have to prove to people both inside and outside the organization that he is a good investment for what he was paid.
Many Rays fans had mixed reactions to the Eflin move, and while still young, Eflin statistically hasn't produced the major numbers you would hope from a former top prospect in the Dodgers and Phillies organizations.
Nevertheless, the Rays are known to bring the best out of pitchers who may not have grasped their full potential, and this opportunity for Eflin may be a chance for him to right the wrongs of his past seasons.
This may feel pitcher heavy so far, but McClanahan, the former South Florida Bull, is on this list for a different reason, and that is: Can he repeat?
Before his injury, McClanahan was having a masterful season, becoming the Rays ace and starting in the 2022 MLB All-Star Game in Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium.
Similar to his rotation companions, the question will be: can McClanahan produce? But it's not that we don't know if he can; it's whether he can repeat what he did.
Having the same start as last season puts many expectations on him heading into 2023, and McClanahan has a chance to establish himself as the #1 man in the rotation.
McClanahan's performance this season could affect a lot of things, especially in the case of Glasnow. If McClanahan can get back to where he was last season, he may beat out Glasnow and take over that "Ace" mantra for good.
4) Vidal Brujan
Brujan, who was a part of the "Big 3" for the Rays (Franco, Walls) in terms of anticipated prospects to make their debut, has fallen short of expectations and raised some questions, the big one being: What to do with Brujan?
Brujan is in a position where the Rays are loaded, in the middle of the infield, and with Curtis Mead on the 40-man roster and a viable option to make the Opening Day roster, does Brujan become expendable?
Brujan hasn't played like he did in the minors, touting himself as one of the top prospects in the Rays system before his debut.
Brujan has only played in 62 games for the big club, but the numbers say that he may be a guy that may not pan out, hitting for a line of .150/.207/.231, very underwhelming for all the hype.
Brujan could still be a player that teams may try to go after due to his age and skills, but do his numbers overshadow that?
He should get some playing time in the big leagues this year, but if Brujan honestly doesn't have a promising spring, the question that is out there may come into effect.
5) Francisco Mejia
Mejia, who came over to the Rays in the Blake Snell deal, has a lot of intrigue surrounding him, with the big question being: Can He Become a Day-To-Day Starter?
While that may sound pretty dual in terms of a question, it is something Rays fans should be asking about Mejia heading into 2023.
Mejia hasn't been a slugging catcher but is known more for his effectiveness behind the dish, which is appealing for run prevention, but do the Rays want to find someone who can fill the gap who is a slugging hitter?
Only time will tell, but Mejia will have to prove he can bring that pop that may be needed for the lineup.