This “projected roster” is not what we expect the Rays to look like on opening day. Rather, this is what the roster might look like if the 2013 season started today. In other words, we are just considering players currently in the organization, and are using this as a way to gauge where changes may happen.

Here is the projection. Players in yellow are the most likely to be replaced through trades and free agency. Notes on the roster can be seen below…

A Few notes on this roster…

LINEUP

I am assuming that the Rays will pick up the options on both Jose Molina ($1.8M) and Luke Scott ($6.0M).

The biggest question mark is first base. The Rays could always bring back Carlos Pena, but he would have to take a big pay cut ($7.25M in 2012) and expect a reduction in playing time.

The Rays will look to add a fourth outfielder-type, but I think they will be content with a Sam Fuld-Brandon Guyer platoon in left field. Keep in mind, the Rays think Fuld is just as valuable defensively as a good bat.

Another big question is shortstop. Do the Rays want to play Ben Zobrist at short? Probably not. But they also know they can, so at this point, he gets the nod there by default. And nothing suggests the Rays are ready to play Matt Joyce everyday, so that means Zobrist will likely be in right versus lefties.

At second base, is Ryan Roberts ready to be the most-days guy or will Sean Rodriguez see significant playing time?

FREE AGENTS LOST: Carlos Pena, BJ Upton, Jeff Keppinger

OTHER PLAYERS TO CONSIDER: Reid Brignac (out of options), Chris Gimenez (likely in AAA), Robinson Chirinos (missed all of 2012), Stephen Vogt (screams 26th man), Ben Francisco

ROTATION

Of course, these five spots depend on if and when somebody is traded. If that happens, Alex Cobb will be in the mix. I still think Jeremy Hellickson is the most likely to be traded as he represents the right mix of peaking talent and price other teams may be willing to pay. I just can’t see anybody offering up the right package for James Shields and expect him to be back in 2013.

BULLPEN

As usual, this area is somewhat of a mystery and the Rays have a penchant for finding diamonds in the rough. The top five seem like locks. Joel Peralta says he wants to come back and that could happen. But I also think the Rays are perfectly happy with Jake McGee and Wade Davis in the 7th and 8th innings with Burke Badenhop as the groundball specialist and Cesar Ramos as the long reliever.

That leaves two spots. Brandon Gomes and Dane De La Rosa seem like the most likely guys at this point. But they would also be the first guys out if relievers are added to the roster.

FREE AGENTS LOST: Joel Peralta, Kyle Farnsworth, JP Howell

OTHER PLAYERS TO CONSIDER: Josh Lueke, Alex Cobb, Chris Archer, Alex Torres, Alex Colome, Ryan Reid

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28 Comments

  1. Greg says:

    What's the projected cost on Keppinger? I was assuming we'd have him back. That's going to hurt if we lose him. I really hope we don't bring back either Molina or Scott. Molina costs relatively little but is horrible offensively and defensively. We have to be able to get a better bat at DH for $6M, agreed? I would also like to see Rodriguez and Elliot Johnson go. They have nothing to offer at the major league level.

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  2. doug says:

    Keppinger is a Keeper, and he can do time at first. No to Jennings in CF, his arm is average at best. He belongs in left. Your starting pitcher projection indictes that Cobb and Archer are either traded or in AAA. If two of the starters are traded good return value would be expected. No to ARod. No to Pena, Scott, Rodriguez and Brignac none of whom can command a consistent strike zone. Molina as he played the last 45 games would be acceptable Lobaton is improving.
    This team is weaker than this year's version, and that may be where we are heading realisticly. Much work to do to even remain status qou

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    • Tom says:

      Why do you say they are weaker than last year? The only real "loss" I see from last years team is Upton. I also do not think the AL east will be as strong next year as it has been in years past.

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      • KT says:

        Also, we (fingers crossed) shouldn't get bit by the injury bug as much as we did this year. Longo, Fuld, Joyce, and Jennings were all on the DL for considerable time. If most of them can stay healthy for a good portion of the year, and Scott (if we bring him back) or whoever the DH is stays healthy, we'll be in pretty good shape (pun intended).

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      • MJ says:

        If upton is the only "real loss" (i think keppinger is a big loss), how do you say what you see above it NOT weaker?

        What's the "real gain" to counterbalance the loss of upton?

        as it stands above, I would say it is definitely a weaker offensive team. Of course, there will be changes before the spring.

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        • Ken says:

          The biggest gain is Evan playing 80 more games. The production Evan could provide playing that many additional games would make up most of B.J.'s production for the entire year. We should also be able to get more production out of 1B and DH next year than we did this year.

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  3. Don says:

    Not signing Keppinger, I don't care if its for $5mil. will rank right up there with their many other screw up signing Major "Players" , He's 10x the baseball player that Scott is, But nothing surprises me at this point with these guys... I expect it and can see it coming before they even move

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  4. Steve Shissler says:

    Been thinking about a couple of free agent options that might be a good fit for the team... what about Nick Swisher. Not the highest end in terms of cost, but probably good for 20-25 HR's, 85 RBI's and will hit .270. Plus, he can play 1B. He made $10 million last year, might take a 2 year deal to play for a team that can stick it to the aging Yankees next year?

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    • Joey says:

      I dont think there is anyway he will get it, but apparently Swisher is looking for a $100 million contract.

      http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2012/08/nick-swisher-expected-to-seek-100mm-plus.html

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  5. phil says:

    Shields should be offered to the Angels (Mark Trumbo) or the Rangers (Mike Olt).

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  6. Greg says:

    Cork has said Hellickson is a good bet to move, but I'd rather see Matt Moore go. I think Hellickson is better and I bet we could get a similar haul for Moore. I would be fine with Archer and Cobb competing to replace Moore or having both in there if Neimann is ineffective/hurt. I don't feel confident Neimann is going to remain healthy.

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    • Alex says:

      Are you serious? A similar haul? I'd take a monster haul to get Moore. Moore could be a top 3 pitcher if not better soon. Hellickson is a very good pitcher, but we know what he is already. Nothing wrong with that just nothing spectacular.

      No thank you to Trumbo. Still strikes out way too much and his second half is probably closer to his skill set than the first half.
      .305/22/57
      .227/10/38

      The Rays will bring Molina and Scott back most likely but there isn't a chance in hell they will do it for those Prices. They will buy both players out and try to resign them cheaper or go after other players. Pena wont be back. His defense is in decline and his hitting speaks for itself

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    • Alex says:

      Moore is two years younger, signed to a good contract already, showed vast improvement down the stretch, and is only 23 years old. No way he goes unless someone majorly impactful that's already in the majors is offered.
      99.2 ip / 4.42 era / 96k / 50BB
      77.2 ip / 3.01 era / 79k / 31BB

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    • Beth says:

      Seriously? Sorry, Greg, but I'll be blunt: you are nuts.

      They signed Moore long term because they plan to keep him. Period. He, Evan Longoria and Ben Zobrist are the three Rays who are not leaving. That's the whole point of doing long term contracts with young, promising players!

      Even if Hellickson had Moore's upside, he'd still be the more likely trade candidate. He will soon be arb eligible and that can get expensive.

      To repeat: you don't sign a promising 23 year old to a long term contract and then trade him. You just don't.

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  7. Look, I like Kepp.. but I'm not overpaying for him. Giving a guy a big boost because of one good year is exactly the type of thing the Rays have to avoid. How many of you on this board would be booing his ass and hemming and hawing next year if he doesn't match his 2012 performance.

    I'm not a huge Luke Scott fan, but I can see the value of bringing him back next year. I'd expect him to get the Pat Burrell treatment w/ a month or so to prove his value or be shipped off. Dude was coming off a major injury when the Rays signed him. It was obvious he wasn't right all year.

    I'd be more concerned about replacing Bossman. A Guyer/Fuld platoon doesn't excite me. Maybe Ben Francisco comes back for a little depth or the Rays have to bring someone else in.

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  8. Drew says:

    We desperately need to trade a pitcher for a young hitter...just like we needed to do last offseason. The fact that it still probably won't happen is borderline crazy.

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  9. Steve says:

    Considering salary among available free agents, I can't possibly see a better fit for this team than Jonny Gomes. All bias and homerism aside, I think it makes complete sense. Last year for Oakland:

    .262/.377./.491 (and .299/.413/.561 against LHP) with 18 HR in 279 AB.

    Only 31 years old, consistently kills lefties year after year, good clutch hitter, great presence in the clubhouse, fan favorite, super cheap contract? Gomes is exactly what we need. He can DH, or platoon him in LF with Fuld. He's not THAT bad defensively.

    BRING BACK GOMES! And Howell while we're at it. He was great last year; if we can re-sign him at a reasonable rate, there's no sense letting him walk.

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    • don says:

      Steve< makes way too much sense can you imagine geting Gomes for $1mil+ peanuts, he can out hit 3/4 of the guys on the above roster, everybody in Florida loves Gomes.... They brought back a plug like Pena for mega bucks, but will pass on Gomes....watch...

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    • Alex says:

      Gomes would DH if he came back, but there are a few things to consider. Who's to say he doesn't want to stay in Oakland? He seems to be enjoying himself there. You say he's a great clubhouse presence, but a lot of people feel that he partied too much for the Rays. Maybe he's grown up though. Having him and Luke Scott would be a blast. The Rays obviously got rid of him for a reason just like they have with everyone else. Obviously Gomes succeeded more than the Rays initially imagined. I think part of the problem here way that Maddon DH'd him and platooned him against lefties almost exclusively near the end of his time. Johnny is probably the type that enjoys playing the field and he has shown that he can hit right handers a bit

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    • Andy says:

      Actually thot about Gomes as a Ray again while watching A's in playoffs :) Don't know about him as a DH, tho. Wasn't that what we tried last w/him & he didn't fare well; I think he needs to be in the field. Has anyone tried him at 1st Base? The more I ponder that spontaneous thot, the more I like it. Hmmmmmmmm :-)

      Gotta bring Kepp back!! I say we ask him to be that assistant Hitting Coach talked about a few days ago; that should justify a nice bump in salary. So many Rays could use his approach to hitting, especially cutting down on the K's!! The club prides itself in 'thinking outside the box' & this certainly qualifies, right? :)

      Next, I say put Fuld in CF & keep DJ in LF w/o any platooning. When resting Fuld, then put DJ in CF. Also think Joyce earned right to play almost everyday, w/o platoon as well.

      Lastly, my dream acquisitions are Marco Scutaro & AJ Pierzynski, the latter especially!! He's no spring chicken, but he should have a few more good years left. I think him & Gomes would get along well & fit in w/the other guys, also!! Marco is really a dream after the post-season he's having, but what the heck :)

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      • Beth says:

        What exactly did Joyce do to earn the right to play everyday?

        He's listed as a 1.8 WAR player overall , and he still doesn't hit lefties at all well (.330 slugging, .631 OPS).

        He may end up playing every day because he's better than the alternatives, but I'm not sure what exactly he "earned" with last year's performance.

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        • KT says:

          Agreed. He got a good chance this year and was very underwhelming. Love him against righties, but sparingly against lefties please!

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  10. doug says:

    In response to a question asked above, the team, as illustrated by the projections, is weaker simply because Upton is gone...he will be missed more than many think. None of the projected replacements pick up that loss. There will be a fall off there.
    There is no replacement for Keppinger listed. No one can possibly think that Roberts, Johnson, Rodriguez or any of the other leftovers mentioned can fill his shoes (maybe not all of them together could).
    Three solid starting replacements are needed to strengthen the team: first base, DH and CF, else average may be the best we see.

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    • Tom says:

      They do need replacements at all 3 positions, however, 2 of those positions received little production to begin with in 2012. It will not take much to improve on what Pena and Scott did in 2012.

      Their are 2 reasons why I think the team has a good chance to be better in 2013. First, Scott, Pena, and Johnson combined for 1 WAR (all stats from Baseball-ref) in 1275 plate appearances. Pena is most likely gone, Scott is possibly gone and I do not expect he will get as many PA's next season if he does not produce and I do not expect Johnson to get as much playing time next season if he returns. Secondly, In 2010 Sean Rod, Joyce, and Longoria combined for 13 War, in 2011 12.3 and in 2012 5.1. I would expect that number to be closer to double digits in 2013.

      I am not saying they WILL be better in 2013. Upton is a definite loss and even if Keppinger returns he is more likely to hit around his career average .280-.285 then hit in the .320's again and of course it will be tough for the pitching to duplicate what they did in 2012 too.

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  11. Zach says:

    I know this sounds crazy, but what if they put Zobrist at catcher?

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  12. Dave L says:

    What Kepp will command in the market is a number we can live with so I hope he will be back.

    I dont expect any trades unless we get offered something for Shields that is signifigant.

    Helli and Moore arent going anywhere, we have too much control and they cost too little to let them go now.

    Niemann would bring little more than we could get for free in free agency so he stays put.

    WD is on course for the starting the last inning in a couple of years not the first he starts March in the pen.

    Sprinkle in a couple Grade C free agents like we got in 2011 and 2012 and thats our 2013 roster so get used to it.

    The Rays believe great pitching gets you in position to play signifigant games the last week in September and so wont trade live cheap arms that we control 2+ years.

    In 2013 we will go as far as Longo's never been right since 2009 Hammy takes us.

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