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Tampa Bay Rays State Of The Union For 2016

The Rays have still been one of the best teams in baseball since the start of 2008. Last year marked their 1st losing season since 2007 - and that was only at 80 - 82. But with the starting positional players listed on depth chart all being below league averages on offense - except for Logan Forsythe and Evan Longoria, they will need a few breakout players from their bench. It may be time trade one or 2 Starting Pitchers to add some offensive help. If they fall out of contention, it also may not be a bad idea to trade all veterans that they can. This may include Evan Longoria.

The Rays have still been one of the best teams in baseball since the start of 2008. Last year marked their 1st losing season since 2007 – and that was only at 80 – 82. But with the starting positional players listed on depth chart all being below league averages on offense – except for Logan Forsythe and Evan Longoria, they will need a few breakout players from their bench. It may be time trade one or 2 Starting Pitchers to add some offensive help. If they fall out of contention in 2016 it also may not be a bad idea to trade all veterans that they can. This may include Longoria.

Chuck Booth (Owner/Lead  Analyst) 

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The Tampa Bay Rays failed to make it to .500 or better for the 1st time since 2008 in 2015, however with a 5 game winning streak at the end of the campaign, they made it to 80 wins or better for an 8th year in a row.  I highly suspect this year that may come crashing down.

First Boston went off on a spending spree to amp up its roster, and now the Yankees have added Aroldis Chapman to the fold, and upgraded at Second Base with Starlin Castro.

Toronto made its moves for the better in late July, and should be a team to be reckoned with again in 2016.

Only the Orioles don’t look to compete in the AL East during the 2016 campaign with the Rays thus far, and they still may be tough to play 19 times a year if they are to re-sign Chris Davis.

Tampa Bay still clearly has the best Pitching Rotation in the Division with Chris Archer, Alex Cobb, Drew Smyly, Matt Moore and Jake Odorizzi filtering in spots 1 – 5.  But will it be enough to help a fledgling offensive in 2016?

Evan Longoria's statistical decline has to be cause for concern in the last few years with OPS's at .732 and .764 respectively after posting over .800+ for the 1st 6 years of his career. The man still cranked out 53 Extra Base Hits - and played in 160 games for a second straight year.

Evan Longoria’s statistical decline has to be cause for concern in the last few years with OPS’s at .724 and .764 respectively after posting over .800+ for the 1st 6 years of his career. The man still cranked out 53 Extra Base Hits in 2015 – and played in 160 games for a second straight year. Heading into his age 30 seasion,  he still is owed a guaranteed $105.5 MIL over the next 7 years.

Evan Longoria is the elder statesmen of the club, and he has started to tail off from his prime years already.  He is still above league average for Third Baseman, but one wonders if the Rays can start paying him $15 MIL per years.

There are no real stud prospects in the Outfield like the club once had with B.J. Upton and Carl Crawford manning beyond the grass perimeters.

Yes the team has a bunch of decent guys this roster around with Desmond Jennings, Kevin Kiermaier and Steven Souza Jr., but we are talking about just 27 HRS and 87 RBI in 1069 Plate Appearances in the previous campaign listed as your #1’s on each Outfield position.

The team is not much better on the Infield for numbers, although super Utility guy Logan Forsythe was the best overall force on offense with a 3 Slash of .281/.359./.444.

Tampa is also going to pay about 20% of its payroll for James Loney and Logan Morrison to patrol First Base for their club.  Loney is a decent Batting Average guy, while Morrison has some pop. I am thinking the club might trade Loney if possible,  He does make $9.7 MIL – and there is a market for his services out there.

Morrison isn’t the only former Mariner to make up the Infield Depth Chart.  Brad Miller is listed as the clubs #1 shortstop.

I have seen the guy play a couple of years in Seattle.  He has some pop for the position,  with 91 Extra Base Hits for his career in 1111 AB.  This would equal about 45 – 50 XBH per season.

That is what the club lost when Asdrubal Cabrera left after his one year in the BAY (15 HRs, 5 – 3B and 28 – 2B).

Another casualty of the roster in year to year is John Jaso.  If this guy was only requesting $4 MIL per season for the next 2 years how come the Rays were not in his services?

Jaso is a career .263/.361/.406 hitter with an OPS of close to .800 since the Rays let him go the 1st time.

They wouldn’t have had to trade for Morrison, and pay him a similar deal to hit .220, be injured, and maybe run into 15 – 20 HRs.  LoMo has just a .706 OPS since entering the American League.

At Second Base, the club will use Forsythe for the most part. Again, seeing the Rays 20 times live in 2015, this guy was their most valuable offensive weapon. He broke out with 53 XBH (17 HRs, 33 Doubles and 2 Triples, plus has some plate Discipline to draw some walks. An art lost on lots of his teammates.

At Second Base, the club will use Forsythe for the most part. Again, seeing the Rays 20 times live in 2015, this guy was their most valuable offensive weapon. He broke out with 53 XBH (17 HRs, 33 Doubles and 2 Triples, plus has some plate Discipline to draw some walks. An art lost on lots of his teammates.

At Catcher, Rene Rivera is listed as the #1 Backstopper, but look for newly acquired Hank Conger and Curt Casali to see more reps than him next year.

Conger cracked 11 HRs and added 33 RBI in just 200 AB, while Casali clubbed 10 jacks and added 18 RBI in 101 AB.  I would think that one of these guys (and either Loney or Morrison) would work out for some Plate Appearances as the Designated Hitter in 2016 as well.

The bench players include a lot of homegrown talent with Tim Beckham, Brandon Guyer, Mikie Mahtook and Richie Shaffer all have had all of their Major League AB with Tampa.

Mahtook may have the line as a guy to watch in 2016, after he smacked 9 HRs and 19 RBI in just 105 AB last year.  Despite his nice .619 Slugging on that, he fanned 31 times in those AB. 

I say give this guy and Casali a chance.  If these guys can power up a slagging team for that department, the Rays may just surprise us again.

Guyer, who led the American League in Hit By Pitches in 2015 with 24 (in 385 AB) should also get a second look after posting a decent .771 OPS last year.

Considering Jennings has been battling injuries, Souza is still relatively unproven, and Morrison spends a lot of time on the DL, Guyer may get a chance to shine on the club again in 2016 too.

This club will only go as far as the young guys take them.  I believe the veterans have maxed out – or are in decline.

Chris Archer is set to make $41.9 MIL over the next 6 years with the club if he makes all the Team Options. Archer will hit his afe 27 year coming off his best season as a pro. He led the AL with 34 Game Starts, logged 212 Innings, and fanned 252 batters - which was good for 2nd in the American League. Archer made his 1st ALL - Star Game and finished 5th in AL Cy Young Voting.

Chris Archer is set to make $41.9 MIL over the next 6 years with the club if he makes all the Team Options. Archer will hit his age 27 year coming off his best season as a pro. He led the AL with 34 Game Starts, logged 212 Innings, and fanned 252 batters – which was good for 2nd in the American League. Archer made his 1st ALL – Star Game and finished 5th in AL Cy Young Voting.  He is a great #1 pitcher for the club and may only be the other pitcher in the Division that could be considered an ace pitcher.

Cobb and Archer have both pitched like #1 starters at times in the last few years.

Odorizzi, Smyly and Moore all have stuff that is capable of translating into #2 or #3 pitchers.

There has also been a lot of speculation that one of these first 5 pitchers could be traded. With Archer on a team friendly deal through 2021, and Moore also ona 3,2 a cost control basis if he performs, that makes Odorizzi and Cobb as the likeliest candidates to being moved.

There has also been a lot of speculation that one of these first 5 pitchers could be traded. With Archer on a team friendly deal through 2021, and Moore also on a cost control basis if he performs, that makes Odorizzi and Cobb as the likeliest candidates to being moved.

Erasmo Ramirez rounds out the rotation.  This team will not have their first non – 80 win season in 8 years because of the Pitching Staff.

There have also been rumor that the team is looking to deal former Closer Jake McGee.  With Brad Boxberger taking over the reigns, this may pave the way for that to happen.

Tampa Bay also has to look at McGee, who is only under Team Control for 2 more years before he hits Free Agency.  The calling card for the organization is to dive in the bargain basement bin to pull out a Relief Core every season.

Danny Farquhar (also brought over the Seattle and Tampa Bay trade), Xavier Cedeno (purchased from the Dodgers), Matt Andriese (came over with Boxberger and Forsythe in the Alex Torres and Jesse Hahn deal in Jan of 2014,)  are the top listed chuckers in the Bullpen,

Alex Colome and Steve Geltz also had ERA’s under 4 in 2015 and may see some late inning Relief work in 2016.

I fully believe that McGee will be dealt too.  The Rays don’t like paying any pitchers in the Bullpen at all.  They would have all pitches on entry-level contracts once that happened.

The payroll is going to challenge the Marlins and A’s for worst in the Majors before year’s end.  Tampa must not lose sight of where they are. 

At drawing just 1.28 Million Fans into Tropicana Field last year, it might make sense for them to scale back on the veterans, and build through the Draft again. 

At least they have Archer to build around. Perhaps they can use Cobb or Odorizzi to help stock the young offensive talent on the club. 

I have them pegged as a 75 win team right now. 

Cobb has Arbitration for the next 2 years only, and would be a Free Agent in 2018. at 35 - 23 for a career record, wit h a 3.21 ERA and a WHIP of 1.191, he would be highly sought after - particularly since he has lugged a lot of innings in a tough AL East climate. Cobb has thrown for a 2.76 and 2.87 ERA respectively over the last 2 years - spanning 49 Game Starts.

Alex Cobb has Arbitration for the next 2 years only, and would be a Free Agent in 2018. at 35 – 23 for a career record, with a 3.21 ERA –  and a WHIP of 1.191, he would be highly sought after – particularly since he has lugged a lot of innings in a tough AL East climate. Cobb has thrown for a 2.76 and 2.87 ERA respectively over the last 2 years – spanning 49 Game Starts.

*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com and their partners***

I am happy to be back at the helm of the MLB Reports, after completing my record 224 Games in the MLB Trip in 2015.  It was the 4th time I have seen all 30 MLB Parks since 2008. 

During that time away I was fortunate to do 100 Media Interviews and be named the Baseball Blogger Alliance President.

Interview on CSN Philly during the month of July.

Interview on CSN Philly during the month of July.

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Posted on December 30, 2015, in MLB Teams State Of the Unions and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Tampa Bay Rays State Of The Union For 2016.

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