What went mistaken for the Rays in 2022, and what gamers would possibly Tampa commerce this offseason?

October 9, 2022

The Tampa Bay Rays turned the primary workforce eradicated from the 2022 postseason Saturday afternoon. Oscar Gonzalez and the Cleveland Guardians walked Tampa off in Sport 2 of the brand new best-of-three Wild Card Sequence, and the Rays managed only one run within the two video games. It was a solo homer by No. 9 hitter Jose Siri on Friday. Yep, that is a recipe for a fast postseason exit.

Greater than something, the Rays have been performed in by an underpowered offense in 2022. The pitching was not fairly as dominant as earlier years (ninth in park-adjusted ERA and thirteenth in WAR), nevertheless it wasn’t horrible. The offense ranked twenty first in runs per recreation and twenty fifth in house runs. Final yr they have been second in runs per recreation and received 100 video games. This yr they have been twenty first and received 86 video games.

The offense stumbled most down the stretch. Tampa scored no a couple of run in 9 of their last 17 common season video games, and solely 4 occasions in these 17 video games did they rating greater than three runs. And people have been vital video games in a postseason race and that might have given the Rays home-field benefit within the Wild Card Sequence. They weren’t taking part in out the string, and but they have been nonetheless unable to muster a lot offense regardless of a heightened sense of urgency.

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Accidents restricted Brandon Lowe, Tampa’s high energy risk, to 65 video games and Wander Franco to 83 video games. Ji-Man Choi and Francisco Mejia upset, and solely three — three! — gamers had double digit house runs: Randy Arozarena and Isaac Paredes every hit 20 and Choi had 11. Their high 4 house run hitters (Yandy Díaz had 9) mixed to hit two fewer house runs than Aaron Decide.

One cause to consider the Rays would repeat at AL East champions this yr was a farm system that was stacked even past Franco. Coming into 2022, Baseball America ranked Tampa’s system second in baseball behind the Mariners. The system didn’t present a lot impression this previous season, nonetheless. Have a look at the extremely regarded bats:

* Baseball America ranked Partitions as Tampa’s No. 15 prospect final yr. He simply narrowly exceeded the MLB rookie limits in 2021 and technically was not a prospect in 2022, although he definitely wasn’t a longtime large leaguer.

Brujan and Lowe have been top-100 prospects coming into 2022, and whereas Aranda was the No. 20 prospect within the system in spring coaching, he had a breakout yr and climbed to No. 5 in August. Partitions was wonderful defensively, however there’s a minimal acceptable normal on offense, and he did not meet it. Merely put, the Rays did not get sufficient assist from inside, particularly offensively.

To be clear, this doesn’t imply Aranda, Brujan, et al are busts. Even probably the most gifted gamers can want just a few hundred at-bats to seek out their method on this league and so they’re all nonetheless so younger. There’s loads of time to determine it out. This simply means the Rays leaned on their system to plug some holes this previous season and it did not work. In 2022, the youngsters have been internet destructive.

The place does that go away the Rays heading into the offseason? Listed here are the three greatest questions dealing with the group following their Wild Card Sequence exit.

Who’s getting traded away?


Look, that is the truth of the Rays. They purchase younger gamers, get 3-4 years out of them, then commerce them after they start to get costly all through arbitration (or after they attain the big-dollar years of their extension). Final offseason it was Austin Meadows and Joey Wendle. The offseason earlier than that it was Blake Snell. It is what the Rays do.

Tampa had a franchise document $83.9 million payroll in 2022, although it wasn’t that far forward of their payrolls in 2010, 2015, and 2018. It was just a few additional million and that is it. So, except the Rays elevate payroll significantly, extra cuts shall be made. One other few million will not be sufficient to cowl arbitration raises and raises owed to guys on multi-year contracts (Franco, Manuel Margot, and many others.).

The obvious commerce candidate: Tyler Glasnow. Glasnow returned from Tommy John surgical procedure in September and pitched properly, and the Rays gave him a two-year, $30.35 million extension in August. The construction of the contract — $5.35 million in 2023 and $25 million in 2024 — means that Tampa will hold Glasnow subsequent yr and commerce him in the course of the 2023-24 offseason.

That stated, the Rays cannot afford Glasnow getting harm once more. Tampa has a poor monitor document of protecting pitchers wholesome (extra on that in a bit) and Glasnow struggling one other important arm harm seemingly means they’re caught with him in 2024, and so they’d need to commit greater than 1 / 4 of their payroll to an injured participant. Conserving Glasnow means assuming plenty of threat.

Glasnow appeared superb in his restricted motion late this yr and his monitor document is superb. Groups need nothing greater than a giant (6-foot-8) righty with large velocity, large spin, and two out-pitch breaking balls. Glasnow has the instruments to be an ace and he is pitched at an ace degree at occasions all through his profession. Tampa would don’t have any hassle discovering potential suitors.

Additionally, big-market groups will like that Glasnow’s two-year extension with rely solely $15.175 million in opposition to their luxury-tax payroll in 2023 and 2024, moderately than a giant $25 million cost in 2024 in the event that they wait till subsequent offseason to get him (luxury-tax payroll is calculated utilizing common annual worth of the remaining cash on the deal). That makes Glasnow extra fascinating now.

The Angels, Blue Jays, Braves, Cardinals, Cubs, Dodgers, Mets, Padres, and Yankees all instantly leap to thoughts as potential Glasnow suitors. The up-and-coming Orioles too. Actually, each workforce may use a pitcher like Glasnow, although the two-year time period on his contract factors to a direct contender as the perfect match. Both method, Glasnow is a major candidate to be traded this winter.

Díaz is the opposite core Rays participant who stands out as a candidate to be moved in a commerce that saves cash and restocks the farm system. He’s two years away from free company and he made $2.8 million in 2022. That figures to push his wage into the $5 million vary in 2023. Additionally, Díaz simply had what appeared like a profession yr at age 30. That is when the Rays promote.

Level is, the Rays once more determine to commerce away a core participant or two this offseason, as a result of that is what they do each offseason. It’s the baseball circle of life in Tampa. Glasnow and Díaz are two apparent candidates to maneuver given their salaries and remaining years of management, however they’re hardly the one commerce candidates. Who stays and who goes will form the membership’s offseason.

Can they determine the best way to hold pitchers wholesome?


For a corporation constructed round a pipeline of high flight pitching, the Rays certain are horrible at protecting pitchers wholesome. Shane Baz, baseball’s No. 1 pitching prospect coming into 2022, was restricted to 27 big-league innings by elbow hassle this yr, and he had Tommy John surgical procedure final month. He’ll miss 2023. Andrew Kittredge and Brendan McKay had Tommy John surgical procedure earlier on this summer season as properly. JP Feyereisen hasn’t pitched since June. Nick Anderson hasn’t appeared in an MLB recreation since final September. Glasnow and Yonny Chirinos returned from their Tommy John surgical procedures final month. On and on it goes.

Tampa’s pitching harm hassle — we’re speaking main arm accidents that require invasive surgical procedure — has gone on lengthy sufficient that it is truthful to say it is an organizational deficiency. They do not know the best way to hold pitchers wholesome. The Guardians, the workforce that simply despatched the Rays house, appear to have figured it out. Their pitchers misplaced solely 498 man-days to harm the final two years, far and away the fewest in baseball. Tampa’s pitchers misplaced 2,756 man-days to harm throughout that point. That is probably the most in baseball.

“Sooner or later, we have to determine the best way to not have accidents,” president of baseball operations Erik Neander told the Tampa Bay Times in September.

As of late it isn’t simply the groups with the perfect gamers that win, it is the groups that hold their greatest gamers on the sphere probably the most, and that’s very true for a Rays workforce that will not exit and signal that large free agent. Their margin of error is razor skinny and one thing like dropping Baz or Glasnow to Tommy John surgical procedure can derail their season. Pitchers inherently carry harm threat. It is a part of the job. However Tampa’s pitching harm hassle runs deeper than regular threat. They’re doing one thing mistaken and should repair it.

Will there be any progress with the ballpark scenario?

The bold and by no means all that seemingly two-city Montreal/Tampa plan fell aside in January and the Rays are nonetheless seeking to safe a brand new ballpark. Their lease at Tropicana Subject runs by means of 2027, so whereas they nonetheless have a while to determine this out, they’ve hit plenty of roadblocks the previous few years. They’ve kind of exhausted their wiggle room and should start making actual progress towards a brand new ballpark, whether or not they keep within the Tampa/St. Petersburg space or relocate elsewhere.

“Here is what I would like everybody to grasp about at present: We stay one hundred pc dedicated to Tampa Bay. Tampa and St. Pete are each nice cities. Higher than they’ve ever been so far as I am involved,” Rays president Brian Auld advised the St. Pete Catalyst in August. “… It’s inappropriate for me to get into a few of the confidential particulars of these discussions (with native officers about protecting the workforce within the space), however that is all. That is what we’d like.”

The Athletics have proven that the longer the stadium scenario goes unresolved, the extra relocation turns into a chance. The A’s hope to get a brand new ballpark within the Bay Space, certain, however they’re overtly flirting with Las Vegas too. It will not be lengthy earlier than we hear the Rays related to Montreal on a everlasting foundation, or Nashville, or Portland, or San Antonio, or any one of many different nice cities desirous to host a serious league franchise.

A brand new ballpark will not all of a sudden flip the Rays right into a big-market behemoth (simply look throughout the state on the Marlins) nevertheless it does really feel important for the franchise’s long-term viability. They’ve performed the perfect they’ll to make the Trop extra fan-friendly and aesthetically interesting, however there’s solely a lot development potential there. The Rays have a number of questions to deal with on the sphere. Off the sphere, making progress towards a brand new stadium could also be an important piece of offseason enterprise of all.