No surprise here, the Rays were eliminated from the post-season race this week. They clinched their fourth straight losing season, the last three under manager Kevin Cash.
So, where do they go from here? What will this team look like in 2018?
For starters, how about this rotation next season? Chris Archer, Blake Snell, Matt Andriese, Jake Faria, Nathan Eovaldi..and Brent Honeywell waiting in the wings.
It could happen.
Alex Cobb is due to cash in as a first-time free agent, and the Rays are unlikely to pay him what he could earn on the open market. Jake Odorizzi, even though he’s under club control for another two years, could be traded in the right deal. Archer, Snell, Andriese, and Faria are all under club control for at least three more years, and that’s just what the Rays like. Eovaldi could be the X-factor He’s making strong progress from Tommy John surgery, and he’s under a $2 million club option for 2018. Honeywell won 13 games in the minors this season, and he’ll be given a chance to win a job in spring training.
The bullpen will always be a work in progress. Hard to think Alex Colome will be allowed to leave. He’ll lead the majors in saves this season, and is three years away from free agency. Brad Boxberger and Xavier Cedeno have two more years of arbitration, and if they’re healthy, they’ll be back. It’s likely the Rays will give a good, long look at young flame-throwers Jose Alvarado and Ryne Stanek.
This may sound surprising, but there might not be too many changes behind the pitchers. Wilson Ramos, Evan Longoria, and Kevin Kiermaier are all under contract. Corey Dickerson, Steven Souza, Brad Miller, and Adeiny Hechavarria are all arbitration-eligible. Except for Miller, they are all due for raises. Miller may stay, with hopes he’ll rebound to do something between his great 2016 and lousy 2017 season. In my opinion, Hechavarria should stay. He stabilized the shortstop position, and honestly the Rays have no idea what they’re going to get from Matt Duffy next season. Plus, 22-year-old Willy Adames.. the Rays’ top prospect in the minors, might not be ready for the majors yet.
That leaves first base and the annual search for a DH. Both Logan Morrison and Lucas Duda are free agents. It would be great if they could re-sign Morrison, but he will want to cash in on his strong home run season in free agency. DH, who knows? That will depend on the Rays’ budget.
It doesn’t look all that optimistic; but, spring training is four and a half months away.