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Tampa Bay Rays 2021 Outlook


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Alright folks...In what should be one of the hottest threads of the year...Let's begin looking at what 2021 might look like for the Tampa Bay Rays, and the many questions that will likely surround their team going into next season.

2021 POTENTIAL BATTING LINEUP (in no particular order):
- Randy Arozarena (LF)
- Wander Franco (SS)
- Austin Meadows (RF/DH)
- Brandon Lowe (RF/2B)
- Vidal Brujan (2B)
- Willy Adames (3B) * Possible to find replacement in off-season
- Nate Lowe (1B)
- Kevin Kiermaier (CF)
- Mike Zunino (C) * Possible to find replacement in off-season
- Utility/Bench players not likely to receive regular starts: Ji-Man Choi, Yandy Diaz, Joey Wendle, Mike Brosseau, Manuel Margot, Hunter Renfroe. 

MY OPINIONThe Rays are going to need to take a hard look at a couple of players. Willy Adames and Brandon Lowe. Second base and Shortstop. With Wander Franco looming, I believe the Rays are in need to taking a long long look at what to do with Willy Adames. Does he switch permanently to 3B? Do the Rays eventually move away from him and somehow bring in a big bat? The future is with Vidal Brujan and Wander Franco. Both of which play 2B and SS. Brandon Lowe is probably less of a discussion because of his OF ability. Or do the Rays consider moving Lowe to 1B to make room for Brujan?

It feels like a very sticky situation. With the way the Rays use analytics and constantly change their lineups...it's almost impossible to imagine any kind of semi-consistent lineup sticking, aside from Arozarena, Franco (when he comes up), and Austin Meadows (assuming he can get back to where he was in 2019).

Willy Adames feels like an offensive liability and a kind of .250 BA hitter. But great defensively. I'll talk more about Adames later. 

The one thing missing from this lineup is a "go-to hitter", a guy who any one of us could consider to be a legit B to B+ or even A- hitter that we can place in the 3 or 4 spot in our lineup.

 

FREE AGENTSCharlie Morton, Aaron Loup, Oliver Drake, Mike Zunino.

MY OPINIONThankfully, the Rays don't have anyone on their roster who would be considered a "big loss" aside from Morton. If Morton returns for 1 more season of baseball, I fully expect him to re-sign with the Rays on a 1-2 year deal, as the Rays currently figure to have a 3-4 year window of having a great baseball team. The team will need a catcher, but I think Zunino coming back will depend completely on whether or not the Rays make any kind of splash this offseason. If they do, they may choose to bring back Zunino on a 1-2 year small deal and save money.

 

AVAILABLE FREE AGENTS / TRADE TARGETSRealmuto, Gregorious, Bauer, Springer, LaMahieu, Ozuna, Semien, Stroman, Tanaka, Paxton, Cruz, Brantley, Hendricks, Pederson, Turner, La Stella, Simmons and Yates.

MY OPINION: While it would be great to have most of these guys, some of them just aren't likely possibilities. Springer, DJ, Ozuna, Tanaka, Cruz all seem like they'll be sticking with their teams and/or moving elsewhere. You can argue that the Rays don't need Relief Pitching as well...and have never been known to go out and pay a premium for an all-star calibur RP like Yates, Hendricks or Colome...so take them off the list. What I believe they should do, is target someone like Michael Brantley, JT Realmuto, or Didi Gregorious. Brantley instant feels like a good fit, and adds a much-needed bat to the middle of their batting lineup. Gregorious would be a little more difficult, as the Rays infield is a mess right now, and they have decisions to make on what to do with Willy Adames and Brandon Lowe.

Additionally...and I've been driving this train since last season...I believe the Rays need to make a bold off-season move. And that means trading for a player. And there are two players that come to my mind instantly, fitting both the Rays needs and their current team dynamic.

The Rays should target Nolan Arenado or Francisco Lindor. Both are elite defensively. Check. Both provide great bat-on-ball skills and would provide the Rays with a much-needed "go-to weapon" in their batting lineup. Check. Both are considered to be "lesser-known all-stars", and wouldn't command the same kind of money that a Trout, Harper, Betts, etc.. would. Check. I think both of them are there for the taking, and if it means the Rays giving up a couple of top prospects (not named Wander, Brujan, Baz), then I would say go for it.

Simply put. The Rays need to bring a bat in. A guy who they can count on to be a middle-of-the-order guy, who opposing teams will have to think twice about when they step to the plate. I think they get that in Lindor, and they definitely get that in Arenado...To me...Arenado is who I would go after. He's in his prime...He's been stuck in that crap hole organization that is COL and my guess is that sooner rather than later, he's going to want out. COL one need is pitching, and the Rays have a plethora of it in their farm system. The rays will essentially have a gaping hole at 3B, (as they consistently use a platoon at that position in Wendle, Brosseau, and Diaz.

 

CONCLUSIONThe Rays have a plethora of decisions to make, both with their farm system and their current roster. Wander and Brujan are coming up which is a welcome site for Rays fans looking for some help offensively. Depending on whether McKay is ready or not, and the development of Shane Baz, Brent Honeywell and Joe Ryan, and Chirinos coming back, our starting pitching staff, as well as RP's, should be good to go.

The one major concern that I have is our offense. It's a roster that's constructed of what feels like C or C+ players, with a couple of very inconsistent B- type players in Meadows and Lowe.

They are gifted defensively.  But the Rays need help offensively. Wander and Brujan will help...But I think they are a Nolan Arenado trade away from being considered an ELITE team moving forward. Even picking up someone like Michael Brantley or Didi Gregorius would be a welcome site for sore eyes.

The Rays are going to have to figure out what to do with Willy Adames. He's a liability against good pitchers, but great offensively. But in my mind, I wouldn't mind using him as a trade chip along with a Farm System pitcher to bring in a real bat.

Arozarena, Wander, Brujan and Lowe feel like the only "sure things" going into next season offensively...Everything else feels like a coin flip. A coin that feels like it has more than two sides and endless possibilities.

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Alright folks...In what should be one of the hottest threads of the year...Let's begin looking at what 2021 might look like for the Tampa Bay Rays, and the many questions that will likely surround the

Tampa lost to the Phillies in 2008.12 years later in their next appearance they lost to the Dodgers in 2020. In 2008 with BJ Upton playing the star role they prolly expected a next world series to be

I don't get the non exercise of the contract either 15 million either.  As you said it's one year deal. There are basically no bad one year deals. If Robbie Ray is getting 9 in free agency, Morton for

Don't sell Willy Adames short.  He did pretty good this season.  He will be fine at 3B.  Or at SS since some people think Franco should go to 3B and Adames stay at Ss because of their defensive capabilities.

What I want to know is will Nate Lowe EVER get to play at 1B.  Either give him his shot and play him regularly so he can get/keep his timing or trade him.

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I kinda agree. I like Adames a little bit still and it's not like you can sell him low.  I also would like to see Nate Lowe get enough PAs against RHP, that being said Choi is quite strong vs RHP, which sours me a little on Lowe's upside, because how much better can it be than Choi?  I'm not sure, but I'd probably take a flyer on Lowe if the news looks positive going out of spring, and it's a daily league.

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I don't think Adames changes positions. His value comes mostly from his glove at SS. I envision Wander in the Bregman/Machado role of stud 3B/backup SS.

Arenado would be fun, but taking on the 6/191 he's got left on his contract is not how the Rays roll.

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16 minutes ago, UberRebel said:

All I know is they better call up Wander. Any good reason to keep him down past June? I’ve been waiting soooo loooonnggg

 
If they want to super 2 him that will be June something . They are cheap so it’s possible. If they are going to wait the four weeks to get one year control because he’s ready, then it was dumb not to call him up to try and win the World Series.

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Franco has not played a game above highA and yes, TB is always looking for ways to keep salary down, but perhaps he truly is not ready. You only have to look at Jo Adell, who was right behind Franco on many prospect lists. Despite having time in both AA and AAA Adell was a disaster in his first crack at MLB. 

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I'm starting to believe that Nate Lowe will be somewhat expendable..and I'm starting to wonder if they consider moving him in a trade for someone.

They've got Ji-Man, Yandy, and Lowe, and it feels as though Lowe's never going to get a shot to play full time.

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Tampa has work to do to ensure their window didn't close. Their offense is attrocious basically A-Roz and 8 auto-outs. platoons and defense and great pitching can only take u so far. I think I will avoid all Rays this year in drafts since so few pay off even if the team gets wins. Glasnow Snell have lots of talent but a franchise that refuses to let pitchers face guys 3 times limits them as 5 inning pitchers. no closer and a mish mash of daily lineups makes A-Roz their only draftable player and he will prolly go too high in drafts for me. Wasting a postseason player slot on Brett Phillips over Wander Franco was laughable.

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3 minutes ago, hailfire4 said:

Tampa has work to do to ensure their window didn't close. Their offense is attrocious basically A-Roz and 8 auto-outs. platoons and defense and great pitching can only take u so far. I think I will avoid all Rays this year in drafts since so few pay off even if the team gets wins. Glasnow Snell have lots of talent but a franchise that refuses to let pitchers face guys 3 times limits them as 5 inning pitchers. no closer and a mish mash of daily lineups makes A-Roz their only draftable player and he will prolly go too high in drafts for me. Wasting a postseason player slot on Brett Phillips over Wander Franco was laughable.

So Brandon Lowe hitting 3 home runs in 6 world series games was/is an "auto out"? 

He was also the third highest scoring 2B in a standard fantrax league, but sure, he's an "auto out " 🙄

 

Willy Adames was the 12th highest scoring SS, ahead of Semien, Baez, Correa, Torres. If Adames is an auto out, does that mean the rest of them are too?

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pretty much any hits the other guys got were surprises. the solo homer can work but it works better if someone ever got on base. good defense can keep a game close and their 8 auto-outs will get some hits sometimes even score a run. But having to rely on Snell in the final game to protect a 1 run lead was unlikely to happen whether they pull him in the 6th or not. Speaking of errors houston pretty much kicked their series and the Dodgers pretty much won 5 of 6 games after kicking game 4 away. From a fantasy standpoint which ray would u really draft? platoons limit ABs which can make u appear less scrubby than full time players. Austin Meadows last year was supposed to be the Rays only star in drafts and sucked all year.

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1 hour ago, fishingguy12345 said:

Willy Adames was the 12th highest scoring SS, ahead of Semien, Baez, Correa, Torres. If Adames is an auto out, does that mean the rest of them are too?

 

I'm with you on Lowe, but I'm seeing Adames as SS19 in Fantrax's 5x5 rankings, 23 on ESPN, and 21 on Yahoo.  Still plenty of time for him to develop a more fantasy-friendly profile, but as of right now he's just kind of a back-end MI filler.

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8 hours ago, tonycpsu said:

 

I'm with you on Lowe, but I'm seeing Adames as SS19 in Fantrax's 5x5 rankings, 23 on ESPN, and 21 on Yahoo.  Still plenty of time for him to develop a more fantasy-friendly profile, but as of right now he's just kind of a back-end MI filler.

Here's what I see when I go to draft in a fantrax standard h2h points league

https://imgur.com/a/tB6aBJh

 

Edit: I don't know how to insert an image on this forum, the regular tags don't work. 

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On 10/31/2020 at 10:09 PM, hailfire4 said:

Wasting a postseason player slot on Brett Phillips over Wander Franco was laughable.

 

 meh, if wander wasnt ready he just wasnt ready, and Phillips got the hit on the crazy walkoff win for Rays to boot

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16 minutes ago, kmoore1521 said:

 

 meh, if wander wasnt ready he just wasnt ready, and Phillips got the hit on the crazy walkoff win for Rays to boot

 

We'll find out soon enough. If they wait one month for Wander just to get the year of control and he goes nuts next year, I think there is legit criticism for not calling him up.  If they wait longer and or he struggles, then less so.

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The Rays had a pretty good offense-by-committee this year that leveraged deeper COVID rosters to maximize value from heavy platooning, but with few individual standouts.
 

So with a thinner roster next year after coming up short in the WS they don’t have a choice but to try to infuse more starpower in the lineup and see what they have in Franco.
 

They really should give him lots of ABs to acclimate too. They know he’s got the elite hit tool, so it’s not worth it to jerk around his playing time.

 

 

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2 hours ago, brockpapersizer said:

 

We'll find out soon enough. If they wait one month for Wander just to get the year of control and he goes nuts next year, I think there is legit criticism for not calling him up.  If they wait longer and or he struggles, then less so.

CBA is up after next year. Years of control will (likely) be grandfathered if there are any changes to the system. Super 2 being grandfathered may very well not be. So I can see more teams willing to call up guys earlier once they secured years of control.

With Competitive teams, the opportunity cost/risk reward may swing in favor of aggressive call ups over $$$ saving that may not exist.

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3 minutes ago, Slatykamora said:

CBA is up after next year. Likely, years of control will be grandfathered if there are any changes to the system. Super 2 being grandfathered may very well not be. So I can see more teams willing to call up guys earlier once they secured years of control.

With Competitive teams, the opportunity cost/risk reward may swing in favor of aggressive call ups over $$$ saving that may not exist.

 

I don't disagree with you. I would never wait for Super 2 honestly, the year is far more important. My commentary was only a reflection of whether or not they should have called him up for the postseason or not.   If he's called up early and he looks very good, that feels like a regret looking backwards. I'm not saying the Rays are never getting back to the World Series soon, but it's certainly possible. Getting there is hard, and harder for them with their payroll handicap. Their odds of making it back to the world series in any given year is <50%

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Tampa lost to the Phillies in 2008.12 years later in their next appearance they lost to the Dodgers in 2020. In 2008 with BJ Upton playing the star role they prolly expected a next world series to be a given. The point is windows close. Building to lose a World Series every 12 years may be enough for this franchise. Making the postseason these days is no real achievement and losing to a team with triple your payroll is no shame. Winning a title should be the goal. Show me a team that is a Good Loser and I will show you a team Good at Losing.

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7 hours ago, hailfire4 said:

Tampa lost to the Phillies in 2008.12 years later in their next appearance they lost to the Dodgers in 2020. In 2008 with BJ Upton playing the star role they prolly expected a next world series to be a given. The point is windows close. Building to lose a World Series every 12 years may be enough for this franchise. Making the postseason these days is no real achievement and losing to a team with triple your payroll is no shame. Winning a title should be the goal. Show me a team that is a Good Loser and I will show you a team Good at Losing.

 

To be fair, I think the Dodgers have the best team in the entire league, let alone the NL, and I would certainly take the field vs them in the NL to make it to the World Series. It's tough. The Rays are very obviously one of the best run teams in the league, and with a payroll handicap, arguably the best.  Wander could be a superstar next year and the Rays still might not make it to the World Series. Doesn't mean they are losers, just that it's difficult and you have 30 teams competing with real stakes.  The Royals lost in the World Series and came back and won it the next year. That was pretty shocking to me that a team like that could make it to b2b World Series, hopefully for the Rays that happens to them. It could. 

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If the Rays were trying to make the WS next year, they would have exercised the Morton option.  $15 mil for one year for that type of production is a bargain, and even if he falls off a cliff next year, they wouldn't be stuck with him long-term.  Either way they won't advance as far without him.  And the chances of them using that money to replace his productivity are slim-to-none. 

 

How are they ever gonna develop a loyal fan base when they're almost never loyal to the players that help them succeed?  This year was a fluke, and likely their only chance at a WS in the forseeable future.  

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1 minute ago, OaksterDan said:

If the Rays were trying to make the WS next year, they would have exercised the Morton option.  $15 mil for one year for that type of production is a bargain, and even if he falls off a cliff next year, they wouldn't be stuck with him long-term.  Either way they won't advance as far without him.  And the chances of them using that money to replace his productivity are slim-to-none. 

 

How are they ever gonna develop a loyal fan base when they're almost never loyal to the players that help them succeed?  This year was a fluke, and likely their only chance at a WS in the forseeable future.  

 

I don't get the non exercise of the contract either 15 million either.  As you said it's one year deal. There are basically no bad one year deals. If Robbie Ray is getting 9 in free agency, Morton for 15 seems pretty good. Do they think they can get him cheaper? 

 

I wouldn't write off the Rays minus Morton though, they just need one pitcher to step up to be close to that level to be at the "same place", and while that player might not be obvious right now, it could be a value free agent, or one of their bulk guys improving or a prospect. Can't count at the Rays to find someone.

 

That being said. If I was just about any team I'd like to have Morton on a 1/15 deal.

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