The Tampa Bay Rays are stuck in the wrong division. They are clearly just trying to get younger and rebuild, but the rest of the AL East are stocking up for possible a playoff run. The Rays are the odd team out.
The Rays have a roster that will make them competitive in most games, but they should probably start moving some assets and stock up on young players. They could get a nice return for flamethrower Chris Archer. I doubt they would move Evan Longoria, but they could get the biggest return with him since he has team-friendly contract. Probably another reason why the Rays will never move him.
Will the Rays be sellers at the deadline this season or will they keep adding role players?
Here is the 2017 MLB season preview for the Tampa Bay Rays.
2016 Win/Loss Record: 68-94
Key Additions: RP Shawn Tolleson, OF Colby Rasmus, SP Nathan Eovaldi, C Wilson Ramos, OF Mallex Smith, RP Jumbo Diaz, RP David Carpenter, C Michael McKenry & 2B Rickie Weeks
Key Losses: 2B Logan Forsythe, SP Drew Smyly, RP Enny Romero, OF Desmond Jennings, OF Mikie Mahtook, C Bobby Wilson, RP Steven Geltz, RP Kevin Jepsen & RP Eddie Gamboa
Interleague Schedule: NL Central
Projected Starters: Luke Maile, Logan Morrison, Nick Franklin, Evan Longoria, Matt Duffy, Colby Rasmus, Kevin Kiermaier, Steven Souza Jr. & Corey Dickerson
Projected Starting Rotation: Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi, Blake Snell, Alex Cobb & Matt Andriese
Closer: Alex Colome
Fantasy Sleeper: SP Alex Cobb – Cobb missed the entire 2015 season and all but the last month of last season recovering from a Tommy John surgery. He had a horrendous five starts in September in which he gave up 21 runs in 22 innings. He had a normal offseason for the first time in awhile and has pitched pretty well so far this Spring. He was once one of the best young pitchers in the American League and think he could regain his past form. He could be a nice streamable option this season and a must-own in AL-only leagues.
Prospect To Keep Your Eye On: SP Brent Honeywell – The Rays will be in need of starting rotation depth this season after finding out Nathan Eovaldi will miss the season due to Tommy John surgery. Honey well had a fantastic year in Double-A last year. In 10 starts, he had a 2.28 ERA in 59 innings. The Rays could also turn to the slightly older Chih-Wei Hu who was also in Double-A last season and ended the year with a 2.59 ERA after 24 starts. The Rays have a couple options if more injuries hit their rotation.
Team Analysis: The Rays had a hard road ahead of them in the competitive AL East. Their division is stacked and they will have one of the hardest schedules in the Majors.
The Rays had their injury issues a year ago and were unlucky at times as well. Starter Chris Archer went 9-19 last season, but also had 233 strikeouts with an ERA slightly above 4.00. Those numbers would have lead to a better overall win-loss record on a better team. Also, outfielder Steven Souza Jr. might have played his way into a platoon situation this season. He was once one of the highest-regarded prospects in baseball, but his strikeouts have become a huge issue. The Rays appear to be the losers in the three-team deal that sent Wil Myers to the Padres and Trea Turner & Joe Ross to the Nationals.
I expect the Rays to have a similar season in 2017 as last year. The rest of the AL East has improved and the Rays are in an odd limbo position in-between sellers and a full-blown rebuilding team. I expect Chris Archer and a few other Rays to end up on other teams by the end of the season.
2017 Wins Over/Under Betting Line: 78 (Prediction: UNDER)
2017 Projected Win/Loss Record: 73-89 (5th in AL East)
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.