Category Archives: Tampa Bay Rays

3 Teams that will be worse in 2018

3. Tampa Bay Rays

The Tampa Bay Rays looked like they wanted to be a competitive team in the AL, but then they traded franchise cornerstone Evan Longoria and everything changed. However, the Rays weren’t done there as they also let go of Corey Dickerson, Jake Odorizzi, Logan Morrison, Steve Cishek, Steven Souza Jr., and Alex Cobb. That is a long list of quality veteran players that they will be missing in 2018. That leaves Chris Archer, Kevin Kiermaier, and Alex Colome as the only really reliable veteran players on their roster. The Tampa Bay Rays team will look a lot different in 2018 especially with the inexperienced players that they will rely upon to be starters like Mallex Smith, Daniel Robertson, and Matt Duffy. Tampa Bay should still have a good starting rotation, although they will struggle mightily to score runs after all of the key players that they decided to get rid of.

2. Miami Marlins

Miami had an elite outfield with Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, and Marcell Ozuna, but that was before they traded them all this offseason. However, the Marlins now have a very crappy outfield at least for the 2018 season as they will be relying upon Derek Dietrich, Lewis Brinson, and Braxton Lee as their starters. Brinson is a good prospect, but who knows what he will provide as a starter for the Marlins in 2018. Miami still has J.T. Realmuto, Starlin Castro, and Justin Bour to lead their lineup so all isn’t lost. However, Miami has a bad bullpen and a bad starting rotation, so they no longer have the dynamic lineup to make up for their pitching flaws. Miami has some reasons for optimism with the young prospects that they now have, although 2018 likely isn’t going to be a very fun season for Marlins fans.

1. Kansas City Royals

Kansas City had a very rough offseason with losing Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain, and Mike Moustakas among other key players. The Royals are basically now only left with Salvador Perez, Alex Gordon, and Whit Merrifield to anchor their lineup in 2018. Kansas City already kind of struggled to score runs, but now it could be a really big struggle. Also, Kansas City lost many key members of their bullpen including Joakim Soria, Scott Alexander, and Ryan Buchter. The bullpen was a strength for the Royals not too long ago, but now it appears that it will be a major issue. Kansas City also doesn’t have a reliable starting rotation except for Danny Duffy who is the clear ace for the Royals. The Royals don’t have much hope in any aspect of their roster and it could be a tough rebuilding year for Kansas City.


Mariners trade Cishek to the Rays

The Seattle Mariners exchanged relief pitchers with the Tampa Bay Rays as the Mariners sent Steve Cishek to the Rays for Erasmo Ramirez.


Mariners analysis/grade:

The Seattle Mariners really didn’t have much of a need for Steve Cishek anymore after the team recently acquired setup man David Phelps from the Marlins. Cishek is still a very good relief pitcher, but the Mariners didn’t have a big role for him this season. Meanwhile, Erasmo Ramirez provides the Mariners with some more versatility since he can be used as a starting pitcher or he can be used as a middle relief pitcher. The Mariners will probably use Ramirez as a starting pitcher to begin, but if that doesn’t work out then they could just move him to the bullpen. Ramirez hasn’t been very good this season as he has a 4.80 ERA, but maybe he will pitch better for the Mariners. Ramirez fits in well with Seattle, although I’m just not sure if he makes Seattle any better. In fact, they might be worse off as a result of this trade since Cishek was a very productive player for the Mariners and Ramirez has had a bad season in 2017. I see why the Mariners made this trade, but this trade probably won’t make them any better.

Grade: C-


Rays analysis/grade:

This trade makes a lot of sense for the Rays since they had a big need for late-inning bullpen help and Cishek is certainly a very good option in the 7th or 8th inning. Cishek has been a closer for most of his career and he did a very good job of it as he has 121 career saves and an impressive 2.81 career ERA. Cishek has been good for the Mariners this season as well since he had a 3.15 ERA for Seattle in 23 appearances. The Rays also didn’t give up much in return for Cishek as they dealt Erasmo Ramirez who had struggled with a 4.80 ERA for the team anyway. Tampa Bay didn’t have a role for Ramirez anyway since they have tons of starting pitching depth and their bullpen is really deep right now as well with the addition of Cishek. The only downside of this trade for the Rays is that they are only getting Cishek as a rental player since he is going to be a free agent after this season. However, this is a trade that makes the Rays bullpen stronger at least for the rest of this season.

Grade: B

steve cishek



Mets trade Lucas Duda to the Rays

The New York Mets traded 1st baseman Lucas Duda to the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for minor league right-handed pitcher Drew Smith.


Mets analysis/grade:

Lucas Duda was a good starting 1st baseman for the Mets for several years, but it was the right move to trade him now since he is going to be a free agent after the season. The Mets were smart to at least get something in return for Duda before they would lose him for nothing this offseason. The Mets received right-handed relief pitcher Drew Smith who was the 30th ranked prospect in the Rays minor league system. Smith was a 3rd round pick of the Tigers in 2015, so clearly he has some potential to be a good MLB player. Smith also has been outstanding in 3 minor league seasons as he has a career 1.78 ERA and he was recently promoted to Double-A before being dealt to the Mets. Smith has the potential to be a good middle relief pitcher for New York in a few years as long as he continues to pitch well like he has so far in the minor leagues. This is a good trade for the Mets as they open up the 1st base position for outstanding prospect Dominic Smith who could be promoted very soon. The Mets are also getting a very quality prospect for Duda, so this trade makes a lot of sense for New York.

Grade: A


Rays analysis/grade:

The Rays have been looking for a full-time designated hitter in order to make their lineup complete as they look to make a playoff push this season. Duda certainly will provide even more power to the Rays lineup as he has 19 home runs this year. The Rays already had enough left-handed batters in their lineup, so it would have been better for them to add a powerful right-handed batter for some more balance. However, Duda will certainly make the Rays lineup much better as he will be a good full-time DH for the team and he can fill in at 1st base if needed. Duda is probably just a rental player for the Rays since he becomes a free agent after this season and the team probably won’t re-sign him, but he should add even more offense to an already deep lineup. The Rays give up their 30th ranked prospect Drew Smith in this deal and he was doing great in the minor leagues and I’m just not sure if giving Smith up was worth having 2 months of Lucas Duda on their team. This is a trade that might help the Rays a little bit this season, but in a few years they might regret making this trade.

Grade: C

lucas duda

White Sox trade Dan Jennings to the Rays

The Chicago White Sox continued trading away their veteran players as they sent relief pitcher Dan Jennings to the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for 1st baseman prospect Casey Gillaspie.


White Sox analysis/grade:

The White Sox have recently traded away most of the quality relief pitchers that they have and they continued that trend by sending left-handed reliever Dan Jennings to the Rays. Chicago didn’t really have to trade Jennings since he is under team control through the 2019 season at a very inexpensive price. However, the White Sox received a very good prospect in return and it was a deal that they just couldn’t pass up. The White Sox acquired 24-year old 1st baseman Casey Gillaspie who was the Rays 10th ranked prospect according to Gillaspie was drafted in the 1st round of the 2014 draft by the Rays mostly because of his offensive abilities especially with the above average power that he possesses. However, Gillaspie has struggled this season in Triple-A for the Rays as he is hitting only .227 with 9 home runs. Gillaspie is still a good hitter, but for whatever reason he is just not having a good season in 2017. If Gillaspie can continue to improve then he could make it to the major leagues very soon probably as a designated hitter for the White Sox since they already have Jose Abreu at 1st base. Gillaspie has the chance to be a very good starter for Chicago if he can overcome the hitting struggles that he has faced in Triple-A this year. Dan Jennings was a good pitcher for Chicago, but Gillaspie is a very good prospect and this could turn out to be a very good trade for the White Sox.

Grade: B+


Rays analysis/grade:

The Rays bullpen has been the weakness of their team this season and they especially have been searching for a good left-handed relief pitcher. That is why they acquired veteran left-handed pitcher Dan Jennings from the White Sox. Jennings was good for the White Sox this season as he had a 3.45 ERA, but he was particularly effective against left-handed batters as they only have a .169 average against him in 2017. Jennings is under team control through the 2019 season, so he will likely be a key part of the Rays bullpen for a couple of years. However, Tampa Bay gave up a very good prospect in order to acquire Jennings as they traded away their 10th ranked prospect Casey Gillaspie. There is no doubt that this trade should make the Rays bullpen much better, but the Rays probably gave up too much to get him.

Grade: C+

dan jennings

Biggest need remaining for every AL East team

Baltimore Orioles – Biggest need: Right Fielder

It appeared that the Orioles would try and bring back last year’s starting right fielder Mark Trumbo, but it seems less likely that they will bring him back in 2017. Now, the Orioles seem to be stuck with Joey Rickard as their starting right fielder next season. Rickard put up respectable stats as he had a .268 average with 5 home runs last year. However, he has limited MLB experience and it is a mystery how well he’ll do with the starting job in right field. Baltimore still could sign a right fielder in free agency for the right price possibly a player like Jose Bautista. Either way, the Orioles need to at least add some more depth and competition in right field.

Boston Red Sox – Biggest need: Catcher

Sandy Leon had a career year at catcher for the Red Sox as he hit .310 with 7 home runs with limited opportunities. However, Leon has been a backup catcher for most of his career and he has been relatively unproductive offensively until last season. He will now be asked to be the full-time catcher for Boston next season and it will be interesting to see how he handles that pressure. The Red Sox have enough depth at the catcher position, but they need to find a starting catcher that they are comfortable playing full-time.

New York Yankees – Biggest need: Starting Pitcher

Masahiro Tanaka is a very good ace for the Yankees heading into 2017, but he has struggled to stay healthy recently and it is a question as to how many innings he can pitch. Michael Pineda and C.C. Sabathia are both talented pitchers, but they are also really inconsistent. Luis Severino was awful last season with a 5.83 ERA and Adam Warren has been a relief pitcher for most of his career. There aren’t many starting pitching options left in free agency for the Yankees to choose from. However, they have the prospects that they should probably trade for a quality starting pitcher at some point.

Tampa Bay Rays – Biggest need: Bullpen

The major weakness last season for the Rays was that they couldn’t close out games with their bullpen. Alex Colome was an all-star closer, but the team had trouble just giving him save opportunities in 2016. The only strength in Tampa Bay’s bullpen is Colome and the rest of their relief pitchers are a major question mark. Xavier Cedeno and Danny Farquhar figure to be the 7th and 8th inning guys for the Rays, but both players have been inconsistent throughout their careers. There are still numerous bullpen options remaining in free agency, but the question is whether the cheap Rays will be willing to sign a quality relief pitcher.

Toronto Blue Jays – Biggest need: Bullpen

The loss of quality relief pitcher Brett Cecil in free agency will most likely hurt the Blue Jays as their bullpen appears to be a weakness heading into 2017. Roberto Osuna was a very good closer last season for Toronto as he had a 2.68 ERA and 36 saves. However, the team doesn’t have much else in the bullpen besides Osuna. Jason Grilli has been a decent bullpen option earlier in his career, but he is 40 years old and he was not very good last season. Danny Barnes would be the other setup man for Toronto, although he is inexperienced and he had a 3.95 ERA for the Blue Jays in 2016. Toronto needs to bolster their bullpen by signing a relief pitcher that can help them temporarily.

Rays sign Ramos to a 2-year deal

The Tampa Bay Rays normally are extremely quiet during the offseason especially when it comes to free agent signings. However, the Rays made a big free agent signing on Tuesday as they signed catcher Wilson Ramos to a 2-year/$12.5 million contract. Ramos had a career year in 2016 with the Nationals as he hit .307 with 22 home runs and 80 RBI’s. Ramos was in line to receive a huge contract in free agency this offseason, although a late season torn ACL really hurt his value as he probably won’t play until May or June. The Rays have been looking for a solid starting catcher for years and they had awful offensive production out of the position last season. Ramos might not play right away because of his injury, but they are still getting an above average catcher for at least one year in 2018. I really like this signing for the Rays because it is a bargain deal for the team despite his injury. I thought that Ramos might have gotten an even better salary this offseason despite the injury, yet if he can come back strong from the injury then this is a bargain for Tampa Bay. The Rays still have a lot of work to do with their bullpen and some of their lineup. However, the signing of Ramos takes care of the need for a quality catcher which they have been lacking for many years.

Grade: A


Free Agent that every AL East team should re-sign

Baltimore Orioles – Mark Trumbo – Outfielder – 2016: .256 avg. and 47 home runs

It is really obvious that the Orioles need to re-sign Mark Trumbo. Sure, he is a liability on defense in the outfield and his offensive production worsened the 2nd half of the season. However, he led the major leagues in home runs last season and he is certainly the key to the success of the Orioles offense. The Orioles would still have a ton of offensive firepower without him, but they would miss his constant threat of hitting a home run. We’ll see if the relatively cheap Orioles are willing to dish out the money needed to keep Trumbo in town.

Boston Red Sox – Junichi Tazawa – Relief Pitcher – 2016: 3-2 and 4.17 ERA

Tazawa had a few really good years as a setup man in the bullpen for the Red Sox from 2012-2014 as his highest ERA during that time period was 3.16. However, the last two years haven’t been nearly as good including a 4.17 ERA last season. Tazawa is only 30 years old and he still has a lot of productive years ahead of him which is why the Red Sox try and re-sign him. Tazawa is still a really good setup man and Boston could probably keep him for a cheap price and hope that he can regain the type of player that he was only a few years ago.

New York Yankees – Chris Parmelee – 1st baseman – 2016: 8-at bats and 2 home runs

There isn’t really a free agent that the Yankees should retain or will likely retain, so I’m just going to say that they should re-sign Chris Parmelee for depth purposes. Parmelee only had 8 at-bats for the Yankees and yet he made the most of the opportunity by going 4-8 with 2 home runs. The Yankees have uncertainty at the 1st base position and by re-signing Parmelee to a minor league deal then they can keep him at Triple-A and then call him up when they really need him.

Tampa Bay Rays – Kevin Jepsen – Relief Pitcher – 2016: 5.98 ERA

Kevin Jepsen had a horrible year last season for the Twins and the Rays as he posted a combined 5.98 ERA between the two teams. However, the 2 years prior to that he had an ERA of 2.63 in 2014 and 2.33 in 2015. Tampa Bay needs bullpen help badly and re-signing Jepsen to a 1-year deal at a cheap price would be a really smart move because he will surely bounce back in 2017.

Toronto Blue Jays – Michael Saunders – Left Fielder – 2016: .253 avg. and 24 home runs

Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion are obviously the big name free agents that could be departing Toronto this offseason. However, the key to the Blue Jays continued success will be to retain Michael Saunders. He had the best year of his career in 2016 with 24 home runs and he might not be a middle of the lineup type player, but without him the Blue Jays would have a major void in left field. Saunders won’t command too much money, so it shouldn’t be that hard for Toronto to bring him back and they definitely need to do anything they can to re-sign him.