With the 2022 season officially over after being swept out of the Wild Card round by the Cleveland Guardians, it’s time to take a look at what the next steps are for the Tampa Bay Rays as they begin the preparations for 2023.
The next milestone for the team will come five days after the 2022 World Series comes to an end and free agency starts around the league. At that point, not only do the players that have reached the requisite service time that are not under contract for next season come off a team’s roster, but that’s also the point when players that are not on the roster due to being on the 60-day injured list must be re-added.
As it stands there are two players that will be free agents and come off the 40-man roster five days after the World Series concludes: pitcher Corey Kluber and outfielder David Peralta. In addition, the team is expected to decline outfielder Kevin Kiermaier’s $13 million option for 2023 and pay him his $2.5 million buyout, and catcher Mike Zunino, who is on the 60-day injured list, would also become a free agent.
But there will also be seven players that are currently on the team’s 60-day injured list that would have to be reinstated and either added back to the team’s 40-man roster or designated for assignment: pitchers Nick Anderson, Shane Baz, J.P. Feyereisen, Andrew Kittredge, Brendan McKay, and Ryan Thompson, and second baseman Brandon Lowe.
Anderson and McKay could be candidates for being designated for assignment, as the former has not regained the velocity we saw when he was anchoring the back end of the bullpen in 2019 and 2020, while the latter has dealt with multiple arm injuries that make his return as a pitcher highly unlikely.
That still leaves one roster spot that needs to be created in order to be at the 40-man limit. The most likely candidates to be put through waivers to come off the roster are outfielders Bligh Madris, Luke Raley, or Roman Quinn, though Quinn would not have to accept a minor-league assignment and could instead opt to become a free agent.
This also does not take into account the arbitration-eligible players that may not be tendered a contract and could end up free agents, nor does it figure in players that the team could sign in free agency. Also, the team will have to add players to the 40-man roster by November 1 in order to protect them from being exposed to the Rule 5 Draft that will take place at the Winter Meetings in San Diego this December.