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 2014 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. When the Rays acquire new players, either through trades or free agency, the players in yellow are the candidates most likely to be bumped from the roster. Notes on the roster can be seen below…

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A Few notes on this roster…

LINEUP

We always build these projections based on the assumption that the Rays will not re-sign any of their free agents. That is probably a safe assumption with Luke Scott and Kelly Johnson. The Rays would probably like to have James Loney back, but he is likely to get more money elsewhere. It would not be a surprise if the Rays re-signed Jose Molina and Delmon Young to a pair of 1-year deals, possibly with an option for 2015.

The big questions in the lineup are first base, designated hitter, the second catcher, and left field.

The Rays did not give David DeJesus an extension to have him sitting on the bench. But where will he play? The logical spot would be to make him the most-days left fielder and sometimes DH. However, we saw this season that Desmond Jennings is not the great center fielder we always hoped he would be. Defensively, Jennings was actually worth -5.8 runs (that’s bad) in 2013. For comparison, at his peak, BJ Upton was worth +7.8 runs defensively. On the other hand, DeJesus was worth +3.7 runs in 2013. So it would not be a surprise to see DeJesus in center and Jennings back in left. Either way, it would seem that Matt Joyce is destined to be the DH, occasionally filling in as an outfielder when Wil Myers takes his turn at DH.

One way or another, the Rays need another catcher, whether that is Molina or somebody younger. The Rays have confidence in Chris Gimenez and he could be the second catcher. But if he is, the Rays still need a third catcher on the 40-man roster to serve as a backup in Durham.

The other two positions most likely to be filled from outside the organization are first base and a right-handed hitting DH. Young would satisfy the latter, but the former is likely to be somebody that is not even on the radar right now.

FREE AGENTS LOST: Kelly Johnson, James Loney, Jose Molina, Luke Scott, Delmon Young

OTHER PLAYERS ON THE 40-MAN ROSTER TO CONSIDER: Tim Beckham, Kevin Kiermaier, Brandon Guyer, Hak-Ju Lee

ROTATION

Another assumption we make when putting these projections together is that nobody will be traded. If true, that means David Price, Matt Moore, and Alex Cobb will be the top three starting pitchers. After that, it is not very clear.

Jeff Niemann, Jeremy Hellickson, and Chris Archer are all candidates for the final two spots. It appears that Archer is out of minor league options so he seems like a lock for the rotation. I also don’t have a lot of confidence in either Niemann or Hellickson. The Rays can certainly live with one of them as the fifth starter and barring a trade it would seem that those two would battle for the final spot in spring training.

Of course, if Price is traded, things look a lot less exciting. That would mean both Hellickson and Niemann are likely to be in the rotation and that doesn’t sound like like a World Series-contending rotation.

BULLPEN

This is the spot where we typically see the most turnover. But before we can really get a good idea of how many spots are available, we need to know if the Rays are going to re-sign Fernando Rodney. Joel Peralta wants him to stay and said Rodney will take less to remain the Rays closer. But there are limits to discounts.

If Rodney is not re-signed, would the Rays automatically give the ninth inning to Jake McGee or would they look for another reclamation-project pitcher from outside the organization?

After McGee, the only other locks would appear to be Joel Peralta and Cesar Ramos. The next three would all seem to be close to locks. The only question with Alex Torres is whether or not the Rays want him to go back to being a starting pitcher. However, he is out of minor league options, so that would be difficult at this point unless they trade him. Brandon Gomes and Wesley Wright are also in unless the Rays sign or trade for better options.

The final spot goes to Jeff Niemann for now [Ed. note: An earlier version of this had Josh Lueke in the final spot. But after thinking about it for a while, it is probably too soon to discount Niemann entirely. If he is not in the rotation, and still on the team, he will be in the bullpen].

FREE AGENTS LOST: Jesse Crain, Roberto Hernandez, Fernando Rodney, Jamey Wright

OTHER PLAYERS ON THE 40-MAN ROSTER TO CONSIDER: Felipe Rivero, Jake Odorizzi, Enny Romero, Alex Colome, Josh Lueke, Jeff Beliveau, Mike Montgomery

 
 

15 Comments

  1. Gus says:

    Molina should be signed — as a coach. He cannot play anymore. Please lord, I can’t believe genius people can’t see that. A few framed strikes a game don’t make up for the DPs, the passed balls, the general lethargy he brings.

    Put another way, if the Rays don;t sign Molina, would any other MLB team sign him to play? The answer is, of course not.

    • Mr. Smith 1980 says:

      Agreed. He had a nice little stretch after the break, but other than that he seems more of a detriment than a help.

  2. OriginalTom says:

    Cork, Do you think Niemann will be offered arbitration?

    • Cork Gaines says:

      Yes, unless they just don’t think he is recovering well. If that’s the case, then he could be gone. But if he’s healthy, they’ll want the depth, especially if they trade Price. At the very least they can throw him in the bullpen and hope he does well there.

  3. Dave L says:

    I think Loney comes back. I dont think anyone will throw a ton of money at him. Just a gut feeling. Teams want more pop outta 1st base.

    I think we have a shot at Delmon.

    Archer needs to calm down this year. If he doesnt pace himself I would prefer he start the season in Durham. He emotionally burned himself out last year.

    Nobody will offer much to Scott or Fausto or KJohnson or JoMo for tjhat matter. It will interesting to see what happens to them.

    Niemann is always the Big X Factor in Apri

  4. AJNO says:

    how come Leslie Anderson wont ever be given a chance? He seems like a logical 1B/ DH option, and he comes cheap. Why not include him???

    Also, Beckham is either on that roster, or he’s not a Ray, right? Same with Guyer???

    • OriginalTom says:

      I thought Anderson was a free agent? Also I do not think he will hit enough to play first.

      • AJNO says:

        he hasnt been on the 40 man for about 3 years, and is a FA, yet, somehow he keeps coming back to play for the Bulls. i think hes batting .300 with 20HRs/ yr over the last few years. They Rays wont even call him up when rosters expand. something not quite right with that…

  5. Hockeybob says:

    Cork, did you happen to see that MLB Trade Rumors projects Justin Morneau to be a ray as the First Base reclamation project. An interesting possibility.

  6. Alex says:

    I can’t think of a single scenario in which Archer and Torres aren’t on the roster. Unless you think they might be traded which won’t happen.

    I don’t think the Rays bring back Niemann unless he agrees to a really really low incentives based contract. He made $3 million in arbitration last year. He has never been healthy. He turns 31 in February. Hellickson may have fallen out of favor but I still see him being the number 5 starter. Barring a Price trade/injury to anyone the rotation will be.

    Price
    Cobb
    Moore
    Archer
    Hellickson

    If Price is traded the rotation will be

    Cobb
    Moore
    Archer
    Hellickson
    Odorizzi

    • Dave L says:

      Alex I have to say respectfully that there is no way the Rays go into April with your second rotation if Price is traded.

      Too many greenhorns with not enough innings per season to handle the workload of a rotation.

      I agree Niemann hasnt earned much of a salary but as Cork says IF he healthy we will need the depth and innings. This last year has taught us young guys cant be expected to make 25+ quality starts and you need a 7-8 man rotation (5+2 or 3) unless you are the Tigers.

      Before you construct such a young rotation look at the inning pitched the previous year and think of the projected workload increase associated with an early April rotation spot.

      Archer flamed out, Helli broke down. Hell MM could barely be trusted late season. We had a 2 man rotation for the playoffs effectively.

      Zero percent chance Odorizzi makes the opening rotation IMO.

      If Price goes we will see a new older face (and arm) starting game 4 or 5 in April

  7. Alex says:

    What innings will Niemann provide? Dude is injured every year. Why would they pay him 3.5-4 million for maybe 50 innings? They won’t. There would be nothing wrong with that rotation. Archer flamed out because he pitched most of the year up here for the first time ever. It’s expected. He’s 25 and he’s ready to make the 200 ip leap. He pitched 160 innings in 2012 and 180 innings this year. He can move up to 190-200 ip. Moore pitched 177 in 2012 and only 150 last year because of the injury. Of course the Rays will sign an older dependable innings eater, but this doesn’t take that into consideration. This is as the roster is right now. The guys that they have on the roster. Niemann will not be on the team next year

  8. Alex says:

    Niemann is a great guy that I’ve met a few times, but he’s turning 31. He is always injured. He’s going into his final year of arbitration. I just don’t see him pitching for the Rays ever again

  9. mp645 says:

    Please no more Molina.use Chris Giminez before he is too old. Molina should retire or coach. If he gets a hit, he can’t make it to first and a double is a single with him. This pattern lost close games for us.

    Should have traded Helly last July, Matt Moore needs work as he became more erratic every game, Archer needs to learn meditation and calm himself, Cobb will now be the veteran starter. if Price is gone. Niemann is out of the picture, pay him off or trade. Odorizze should be tried and also Torres as the 5th. Keep McGee as the closer and get rid of Rodney…not longer a contender for closer.

    Then again, great pitching does not always win games. WE HAVE NO REAL CONSISTANT HITTER..that’s what we need. Not DH as Scott or Young. Some suggest Matt Joyce as he is the odd man out since the Kid plays right field and Sammy takes over in the 8th inning. Matt is also inconsistant with hitting and had some very long dry spells last year.

    Plesae try to keep Loney..

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