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Tampa Bay Rays 2021 Preview

Updated: Mar 3, 2021

Welcome to the final month before opening day! I hope you have been enjoying spring training as much as I have. Baseball is close! I am overjoyed! March begins the official Ball Boy Blog previews of all 30 teams. The previews feature all the Free Agent signings, trades, NRI, bold predictions, and some cool fun facts at the end! We are starting at the top of the 2020 ranks and working our way down from best to worst! Enjoy!

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Tampa Bay Rays

Last Year Record: 40-20 first place in the AL East and won the AL

Record x2.7: 108-54

Vegas Projected: 85.5, I am taking the over on the Rays. After dominating the AL in 2020 with a similar-looking team to the roster currently. I have them slotted to win 94 games and the AL East.

Impact Departures:

OF Hunter Renfroe(FA),RHP Edgar Garcia(non-tendered), RHP Paul Campbell(Rule 5)

Traded away:

SP Blake Snell, RHP Jose Alvarado, 1B Nate Lowe, 1B Jake Guenther, RHP Aaron Slegers, C Ronaldo Hernandez, C John Curtiss, INF Nick Sogard

Key Arrivals

Free Agent Signings:

RHRP Chaz Roe to a 1yr $1.15mil deal. Over the past three seasons with the Rays, Roe has a 3.74ERA with a 27%K rate. The Rays are confident that Roe's elbow injury is behind him. The injury limited him to 9.1IP during the 2020 season.

RHP Oliver Drake. The 34yo is still recovering from bicep and forearm issues in 2020. Drake should be ready for action around mid-season. Remove the 7ER over 11IP in 2020; Drake was excellent for the Rays in 2019. In his 59IP with the team, he notched a 3.21ERA/3.18SIERA with a 32%K rate and 8.7%BB rate, and 52.3% groundball rate.

LHP Rich Hill to a 1yr $2.5mil deal. The 41yo has posted a 2.93ERA/3.57SIERA over 503IP since 2015. He pitched in 38.2IP in 2020 with the Twins but averaged less than 5IP in each of his eight starts.

RHP Collin McHugh to a 1yr $1.8mil deal. McHugh brings in a lifetime of 3.95ERA over 800.2IP as both a starter and reliever.

SP Chris Archer- Archer, over the last couple of seasons, owns a 5.19ERA over 119.2IP.

C Mike Zunino- During Zunino's time in Tampa, he has posted a .161/.233/.323 over 373PA. Zunino is well-respected by pitchers as a game-caller, pitch framer and provides a reliable option behind the dish.

SP Michael Wacha- Wacha wasn't great in 2020 as he pitched to a 6.62ERA over 34IP. In that 34IP, he had a 37K-7BB ratio, 11.3% swinging strike, 34.3% chase rate,

Traded in:

P Chris Mazza- Mazza, 31yo, has posted a 5.05ERA/4.96SIERA over 46.1IP. He does, however, carry a 3.72ERA in 92IP at the AAA level.

P Jeffrey Springs- Springs season was also not great as he pitched to a 7.08ERA over 20.1IP.

RHP Adam Cimber- In 2020, Cimber posted a 3.97ERA/3.99FIP with a 52.4% groundball rate in 11.1IP.

RHP Luis Patino- 5.19ERA over 7.1IP at the MLB level

C Francisco Mejia- Career .225/.282/.386 slash over 334AB at the MLB level

C/1B Blake Hunt, RHP Cole Wilcox, 1B Dillion Paulson, C Heriberto Hernandez, INF Osleivis Basabe, OF Alexnder Ovalles, 1B Evan Edwards


RHRP Hunter Strickland- In 2019, he was tagged with a 5.55ERA over 24.1IP. With the Mets last season, he only was able to throw 3.1IP.

RHP David Hess- since his MLB debut in 2018, he has posted a 5.86ERA/6.41FIP over 190.1IP.

RHP Andrew Kittredge- Over the past four seasons with the Rays, the 30yo has a combined 4.93ERA/4.25FIP over 111.1IP. Kittredge's 2020 was cut short due to a UCL issue in August; his agent says he is at full strength and will be ready for 2021.

C Joe Odom- Making his MLB debut in 2020 with the Mariners slashing just .128/.209/.128 with no XBH and 20K.

C Kevan Smith- The 32yo spent the 2020 season with the club and was able to get 38PA during the season. Smith owns a career .272/.321/.384 slash over 746PA at the MLB level.


RHP Chris Ellis, RHP Yacksel Rios, LHP Brian Moran, RHP Joey Krehbiel, RHP Louis Head, RHP Stetson Allie, RHP Adrian De Horta, LHP Dietrich Enns, LHP Kenny Rosenberg, RHP Phoenix Sanders, RHP Tyler Zombro, C Chris Betts, C Blake Hunt, Rene Pinto, C Brett Sullivan, INF Dalton Kelly, INF Miles Mastrobuoni, INF Esteban Quiroz, OF Ryan Boldt, OF Nathan Lukes, OF Garrett Whitley

Selected Contracts:

INF Taylor Walls, OF Josh Lowe, RHP Drew Strotman

Tendered Contracts:

1B Ji-Man Choi, 3B Joey Wendle, OF Manuel Margot, LHP Jose Alvarado, SP Yonny Chirinos, SP Tyler Glasnow, SP Ryan Yarbrough.

Returning from IL:

LHP Jalen Beeks, LHP Cody Reed, RHP Yonny Chirinos.


Ji-Man Choi, 1B

Cody Reed, P

Brett Phillips, RF

Prospect Watch in Camp

INF Diego Goris, INF Wander Franco, INF Xavier Edwards, RHP Joe Ryan, INF Greg Jones, OF Moises Gomes,

-I am excited for Wander Franco to make his MLB debut for the Rays in 2021.

-I am also excited for postseason rookie sensation LF Randy Arozarena to play an entire season. I think he is due to win the AL Rookie of the Year award and go off this season.

Fantasy Impact Players

SP Tyler Glasnow, Ryan Yarbrough, RP Diego Castillo, 1B Ji-Man Choi, 2B Brandon Lowe, SS Willy Adames, LF Randy Arozarena, LF Austin Meadows, CF Kevin Kiermaier, RF Manuel Margot

Upcoming 2022 Free Agents:

Surprisingly enough, the Rays aren't on the hook for any big-name players. Chris Archer, Rich Hill, Michael Wacha, Collin McHugh are all on 1yr deals. Yoshitomo Tsutsugo will be a free agent come season's end.

Storylines to follow

-I am following the Rays rotation situation very closely. The top two guys are Glasnow and Yarbrough. Those two are followed by Hill, Wacha, Archer, McHugh, which gives the Rays a formidable 6-man rotation.

-Prospect RHP Brent Honeywell is back in MLB camp. He has battled arm injuries since 2017, with four elbow surgeries since then. "I'm excited. I'm healthy. … everything is good. After this last one, it was a big-time help for me, and it was a big-time relief of my elbow. Everything is so-called 'on track,' and we're moving in the right direction," There isn't a timetable set for the 25yo, but there is optimism that he could contribute to the club in 2021.

Bold Predictions

You can't get much bolder than saying the Rays will finish +10 over their win projections. The AL East is stacked with the Yankees, Blue Jays on the verge of greatness, and the Red Sox looming in the shadows. However, I predict a great season from the Rays with AL Manager of the year Kevin Cash at the helm.

-The breakout is coming for OF Manuel Margot. The OBP has improved from 2018(.292) to 2020 (.327), and he is only 26 and barely getting into his prime. He has shown flashes of being able to be a 20HR/20SB player. In 3520.1 innings in the OF, he has 29DRS. After slashing .269/.327/.352 in 145AB, I am in on Margot.

-The Rays essentially are rebound city. The combination of Michael Wacha, Chris Archer, Collin McHugh, Rich Hill give the Rays, in theory, a high upside rotation if all goes well. One of these guys, along with Glasnow, will be a Cy Young candidate.

-The NRI to watch is RHRP Hunter Strickland. For some reason, the Rays do an excellent job with the pitchers, and it's because of Kevin Cash. Strickland is going to benefit from the system.

Fact Check:

Tropicana Field was built before The Rays were even a team to attract an MLB team. It was initially called the Florida Suncoast Dome, then the Thunderdome, and finally The Trop.

Although Tropicana Field was built for baseball, the facility has hosted numerous sports, including soccer, tennis, equestrian events, and in 1996 it hosted Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals between the Philadelphia Flyers and the newly formed Lightning. With a crowd of 28,183 people, it was the most massive single-game attendance figure in NHL history.

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