The 2008 25-man roster prediction is based only on players currently within the organization and will be updated when trades are consummated and free agents are signed.
We are now less than a month away from Spring Training and after the recent flurry of contracts signings with the Rays arbitration-eligible players, we now have a much better idea of what the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays roster will look like and what the opening day payroll will be. Yesterday we take a look at the projected 40-man roster and payroll. Today we update our 25-man roster projection.
Notes on the projection can be found after the roster…
A FEW NOTES ON THE 25-MAN ROSTER…
- Lineup: The only spot in the starting lineup that has not been resolved is third base. We are now working under the assumption that Evan Longoria will begin the season in Durham in order to
delay the start of his arbitration clockgain some more experience. This means that the most-days third baseman will either be Willy Aybar or Joel Guzman. We are pulling for Guzman because he has the better glove and there is a chance he could get hot and pique the interest of another team before the trade deadline. In reality, the starter will most likely be Aybar. It is not a terrible move. He does sport a career OBP of .387.
- Bench: Only one of the four bench spots seems locked at this point (Jonny Gomes), and really he will be part of the RF/DH Ghidorah. MIke DiFelice’s experience will almost certainly give him the backup catcher’s position, but Shawn Riggans will be given a shot. The odd-man out at third base (Joel Guzman or Willy Aybar) will served as the “utility” player, but we wonder if Aybar can handle several positions he has never played. The team will most likely give the last spot to Ben Zobrist to be the back-up shortstop. He is also a switch-hitter. If Aybar is the third baseman, and Guzman is on the bench, the Rays will need Benny Boo Boo as the only “left-handed” bat.
- Rotation: Five will compete for the final two spots, including the three incumbents Edwin Jackson, Andy Sonnanstine and Jason Hammel as well as JP Howell and Jeff Niemann. Jackson and Hammel are out of options, but that only means a little. If one does not make the roster the team will pull off a trade before opening day. Out of Jackson, Hammel and Howell, one will be in the bullpen as the long reliever/spot starter. Sonnanstine seems to have the firmest grip on his spot. That leaves one spot and four pitchers. If the season started today, Jackson would have the spot and Hammel would be in the bullpen. But the Rays are going to give Jeff Niemann every chance to take that spot from Jackson. He will be 25 on opening day and should be 100% healthy.
- Bullpen: The 7th, 8th and 9th innings are spoken-for. The long-reliever will be one of the odd-men out of the rotation. That leaves three spots. One will go to a left-handed reliever the team has yet to sign. The final two spots will be a battle in spring training between Gary Glover, Scott Dohmann and Juan Salas. Salas is the only member of that group with a minor league option, but if he out-performs the other two in the spring he will be on the roster and one of the other two will either be traded or DFA’d.