With the MLB off-season starting to get a jump start, the Tampa Bay Rays have already made tons of moving involving two trades, placing some players on waivers, and added key future players to the 40-man roster.
Now, the Rays enter the off-season looking to improve their catching group, bullpen, and maybe adding one outfielder to platoon in left field. Also, what could be the one trade that the Rays accept for Chris Archer?
Hopefully, the Rays can get the deal done with a catcher in the open market to end their woes behind the plate. So far, the Rays have not been lucky in the past when they acquired catchers such as Hank Conger, Ryan Hannigan, and Rene Rivera, who never solved their problems. Now, they are trying to solve that problem by acquiring Jason Castro via free agency, as the Astros decided to let him walk and replaced him with newly acquired catcher Brian McCann.
Next, the Rays bullpen was one of the worst in the MLB last year and possibly the worst in their franchise’s history. The only positive piece in the bullpen was Alex Colome, who finished the season with 37 saves and posting an 1.91 ERA that also resulted in an All-Star appearance. To help Colome, the Rays should either just let the youngsters pitch from the bullpen or re-sign Kevin Jepsen, which he would be cheap after the unsuccessful season he had.
In addition, one pitcher in the open market that the Rays should definitely add to the bullpen is a fan favorite in Tampa, and that is Fernando Rodney. The arrow should come back to Tampa for a fair price, as the Rays will compete next season and that the Rays played a part in helping him get his career back on track. Rodney still has the touch and quality pitches to play in today’s game and last year should back up that talk, as with the Padres he was phenomenal by pitching to a 0.31 ERA, then he was traded to Miami where he struggled that moved his ERA up to 3.44 in a total of 65.1 innings of work, but Marlins Park had a factor in his era jumping up. Rodney would come into Tampa as either the seventh or eighth inning man with Colome being dabbed the closer after last season’s surprising season. This could be a low risk move that turns into a high reward like in the past.
Furthermore, the outfield is set in centerfield and right field with Gold Glove winner Kevin Kiermaier sitting calmly in centerfield and with Steven Souza in right. Left field is the concerning spot, as Corey Dickerson and Mikie Mahtook could platoon out there, but Dickerson was bought in here as the designated hitter, which could leave the Rays to go after Colby Rasmus, who is a nice defender and power bat from the left-handed side of the plate. Rasmus’ batting average is a concern as it has only been over .250 three times in his eight years in the MLB, but I think with his 20 plus potential home runs in the lower half of the lineup will provide a spark to the team and to also see his average go up with the chance to see better pitches, as the lineup is only getting better.
Now, more on that area, the Rays could just let Mahtook and Dickerson platoon in left field, but not go after Colby Rasmus and bring back Steve Pearce as the team’s designated hitter. Pearce had a bounce back year in limited action with the Rays by hitting .309 with 10 homers and driving in 29 RBIs in 60 games. He missed time with the Rays due to a hamstring injury. The Rays traded Pearce near the deadline to the Baltimore Orioles where he got hurt again and struggled.
Finally, the Rays are going to make some moves to improve the team, but an extra bonus is my take on Chris Archer. Archer has all the talent to be great, but it could be the best time to cash in on him by trading him to the Atlanta Braves for a boatload. The Braves have expressed interest in him, according to multiple sources. The Braves are entering next season in a new stadium and want to go in with their future ace. The one package that could potentially land Archer and a throw in player like Mikie Mahtook or Tim Beckham, but maybe both from the Rays could be one that includes five players in Kolby Allard, Touki Toussaint, Chris Ellis, Lucas Herbert, and Ender Inciarte. The boat is high due to the fact that Archer is cheaply under control after the 2019 season with two club options for the 2020 and 2021 season and that he is 28 years old, plus he has the ability to take over games and to become a big face of the MLB.