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Analysis

Predicting The Opening Day Roster Version 2.0

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It’s Monday, and that means it’s time for another round of projecting what the Opening Day roster will look like for the Tampa Bay Rays.

We’re now exactly one month away from the start of the 2021 regular season, and just like last week’s projection, we’re continuing to use the same ground rules:

  • Only players on the spring roster as of Sunday will be used in the projections come Monday.  So there are a couple of players that will be on this week’s projection that weren’t there seven days ago.
  • No trade predictions.  It’s hard enough to try and do this with the 75 or so players in Port Charlotte.  I don’t need the rumor mill to add any spice to the equation.
  • Injured lists are in play.  The 10-day, 15-day, and 60-day IL’s are fair game when necessary.
  • Pitcher limits are in effect.  With MLB going back to 26-man rosters (after using a 28-man roster for the pandemic-shortened 2020 season), it appears the league will enforce a 13 pitcher maximum on active rosters (not counting players considered two-way players).  My projections will adhere to those limits until ruled otherwise.
A Rays pitcher on the mound

(photo: Will Vragovic/Tampa Bay Rays)

Pitchers

In the last seven days, the Tampa Bay Rays have officially added two pitchers to major league deals (Collin McHugh and Chaz Roe), and have had to move another pitcher to the 60-day injured list.  Our thoughts on the rotation have not changed, but the possibility of having Josh Fleming and Trevor Richards on the Opening Day roster just got much more unlikely.  Plus, with both Ryan Sherriff and Ryan Thompson having a full slate of options, it wouldn’t surprise me if the team were to go back and forth with the two of them all season long on the Durham-to-St. Pete shuttle.

Pitchers (13): Nick Anderson, Chris Archer, Diego Castillo, Pete Fairbanks, Tyler Glasnow, Rich Hill, Collin McHugh, Cody Reed, Trevor Richards, Chaz Roe, Ryan Sherriff, Michael Wacha, Ryan Yarbrough

(photo: Will Vragovic/Tampa Bay Rays)

Catchers

Not much has changed in the seven days since the initial roster projections came out.  Even though Kevan Smith came up with an RBI single in the Grapefruit League opening win over the Atlanta Braves, the backup catching spot behind Mike Zunino remains Francisco Mejia‘s to lose.

Catchers (2): Francisco Mejia, Mike Zunino

(photo: Will Vragovic/Tampa Bay Rays)

Infielders

Having just 13 spots for position players is tough for the Rays, even though they’re a team that prides itself in positional flexibility.  It’s the fact that even with all the players that can play multiple positions well, they’re also a pretty deep team, especially in the infield.  I think it says a lot that they have the top prospect in all of Major League Baseball, who most pundits believe will be a superstar, and he may start the year not in Triple-A, but in Double-A.  This latest projection does not change the six players who will make the team April 1.

Infielders (6): Willy Adames, Mike Brosseau, Ji-Man Choi, Yandy Diaz, Brandon Lowe, Joey Wendle

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(photo: Will Vragovic/Tampa Bay Rays)

Outfielders

And with the outfielders, it remains a question as to whether the team will go with Brett Phillips or Yoshi Tsutsugo in the final spot of the active roster.  As I pointed out last week, Phillips has no options left, while Tsutsugo will make $7 million guaranteed in the final year of his contract with the Rays.  I wouldn’t be surprised if this battle went all the way until March 30 in Lakeland, and perhaps right up until the moment before rosters have to be set.  I expect the front office to go back and forth on this decision, so I’ll do the same here.

Outfielders (5): Randy Arozarena, Kevin Kiermaier, Manuel Margot, Austin Meadows, Yoshi Tsutsugo

Written By

Steve Carney is the founder and publisher of St. Pete Nine. One of the people most associated with baseball coverage in Tampa Bay, he spent 13 seasons covering the Rays for flagship radio station WDAE, first as producer of Rays Radio broadcasts, then as beat reporter beginning in 2011. He likes new analytics and aged bourbon, and is the owner of one of the ugliest knuckleballs ever witnessed by baseball scouts.

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