25-Man Roster Projection (notes and explanations on the projection can be found following the roster). You can find the 40-man roster and payroll projection HERE…
- Projection is based only on players currently in the organization. The projection will be updated when players are acquired via free agency or trades.
- Lineup: Unless a player is traded (Carl Crawford?) the only spots up for grabs are right field and DH. Right now, we suspect that there would be a rotation that involves Fernando Perez and Gabe Gross with Willy Aybar and Ben Zobrist seeing time in one or both spots. More likely, one or both spots will be filled through free agency and/or trades. If Crawford is traded, Rays save almost $8 million and Perez would then be the left fielder.
- Bench: Unless Willy Aybar is traded, he and and Shawn Riggans appear to be locks. Ben Zobrist is pretty close to being a lock as the backup middle infielder. Jonny Gomes is far from secure. The Rays used their final minor league option on Gomes in ’08. This spot seems destined to belong to Rocco Baldelli. If the Rays can’t find a trade partner for Gomes, they will likely decline to offer arbitration.
- Rotation: Here is where it starts to get messy. The top 3 are locks. The 4th spot belongs to David Price but it might not happen right out of the gate. We give Andy Sonnanstine the nod over Edwin Jackson for the 5th spot, but we would not be surprised if it goes the other way. It could also be Sonny and Jackson with Price in the minors for a couple of weeks. Can anybody make an argument for Jeff Niemann?
- Bullpen: Four of the spots are locks. A fifth, Troy Percival, is a lock if he does not retire. That leaves two openings. One will go to a long reliever. Edwin Jackson, Jeff Niemann and Jason Hammel are all out of minor league options, and one figures to be the long reliever. The other spot will most likely go to a lefty specialist acquired either through free agency or via trade. At least one trade has to be made this off-season. There are just not enough chairs for when the music stops. Can you argue for Hammel on the roster? Should the Rays keep Sonny and trade Jackson and Niemann and keep Hammel in the ‘pen? Or should the Rays trade Sonnanstine, whose value may never be higher? There are several possibilities here, and a Percival retirement only makes this mess even more muddied.