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Analysis

Predicting The Opening Day Roster Version 3.0

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It’s Monday, and that means it’s time to see how the projection on the 26-man roster for April 1 has changed from the previous week.  As always, the ground rules remain in effect.

  • 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.
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(photo: Will Vragovic/Tampa Bay Rays)

Pitchers

We’ve seen good outings like the one Michael Wacha, and bad ones like the outing from Rich Hill, but as of now, I don’t think any of it changes things much.  We could see the Durham to St. Pete shuttle work overtime this year with pitchers like Josh Fleming, Luis Patino, and Shane McClanahan perhaps not making the club roster out of camp, but spending a significant portion of the season with the Rays.  But because this is the roster as of Opening Day, they won’t be on this list as of right now.  But that could change.

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

Catchers

The big question for the catching corps has been whether Francisco Mejia‘s bat would catch up to his defensive skills.  A 4 for 9 start with a pair of doubles will make fans feel a little better about the trade of Blake Snell (but only a LITTLE better).  Mejia’s success next to the plate also makes it more difficult for Kevan Smith to make the club as a non-roster invitee.

Catchers (2): Francisco Mejia, Mike Zunino

(photo: Will Vragovic/Tampa Bay Rays)

Infielders

This might be the most difficult part of the roster to look for changes, because the six or seven men that I have in this area haven’t changed.  The question is do I put Yoshi Tsutsugo as an infielder or outfielder?  Rays manager Kevin Cash says Tsutsugo has looked like a natural playing first base, so I’ve moved him from the outfield to the infield.

Infielders (7): Willy Adames, Mike Brosseau, Ji-Man Choi, Yandy Diaz, Brandon Lowe, Yoshi Tsutsugo, Joey Wendle

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(photo: Will Vragovic/Tampa Bay Rays)

Outfielders

Moving Tsutsugo from the outfield and the infield means there’s only four roster spots remaining for outfielders, which would mean Brett Phillips would not make the club for Opening Day.  Austin Meadows looks like he’s back to his 2019 All-Star status, and if Randy Arozarena can look like he did during the 2020 postseason, you may not need another backup outfielder.

Outfielders (4): Randy Arozarena, Kevin Kiermaier, Manuel Margot, Austin Meadows

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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