Rays 2018 Season Preview
Ready to check out our 2018 Tampa Bay Rays predictions? In a league where there are a bushel of teams to contend for the World Series and a growing number of rebuilding teams vying for a top draft pick, Tampa’s 2018 ‘quasi-rebuilding’ mindset might quickly morph into a full-on, scorched-Earth job. In the meantime, we’ll look at the Rays chances in the AL East division as currently assembled.
MLB Rays Predictions & Handicapping Insight
There are enthusiastic suitors for talented Tampa Bay players, as the Rays brain trust cement the position that a full-bore rebuild is more desirable to a half-assed job.
This comes on the heels of Tampa shipping out franchise icon 3B Evan Longoria to the Giants in the off-season. Tampa’s chances with their top dogs as opposed to trading them and letting a prospect cut their teeth is obviously a bit different.
Archer has gone on record as saying he doesn’t expect to be jettisoned and to date, he has been the one stud immune from the trade block.
Jake Odorizzi, Logan Morrison, Corey Dickerson and Steven Souza from the 2017 club are all recently departed, via trade or designated for assignment.
2018 MLB Team Previews – Tampa Bay Rays
- American League East
- American League 33/1
- World Series +10000
- IF Nick Solak
- 1B/DH C.J. Cron
- P Anthony Banda
By parting with so much veteran talent, Tampa is grabbing prospects and futures with both hands. Solak and Banda fall into that category, coming over from the three-way trade that shipped last year’s team MVP Steven Souza to Arizona. While they both offer promise, both youngsters will likely provide depth in the immediate future.
Cron, meanwhile, will slot into the lineup and soak up meaningful at-bats, allowing solid-hitting IF Brad Miller to stay at second base.
Cron swatted 16 homers with the Angels last year, and with Dickerson and Morrison gone, he can slot in at first or at DH. With so few positions set in stone for the Rays, Cron will have plenty of chances to play a vital role.
Elsewhere, the Rays took a flyer on oft-injured veteran pitcher Dustin McGowan, with an invitation to spring training.
- 3B Evan Longoria
- OF Steven Souza Jr.
- 1B/DH Logan Morrison
- 1B/DH Corey Dickerson
- SP Jake Odorizzi
- SP Alex Cobb
As you can see, there is ample turnover on the Gulf coast of Florida for the 2018 baseball season. While the Yankees and the Red Sox are so strong and Toronto is still loaded with veterans, Tampa’s brain trust has decided to blow it up and compile futures, with an eye to several years from now.
While it’s clearly deflating for fans and the odd remaining star on the roster (Archer, we’re looking at you) it is likely the sensible move.
Rays Predictions: Projected Lineup:
- LF Denard Span
- CF Kevin Kiermaier
- 2B Brad Miller
- 1B C.J. Cron
- RF Mallex Smith
- 3B Matt Duffy
- C Wilson Ramos
- DH Ryan Schimpf
- SS Adeiny Hechavarria
The lineup is shaken up considerably from the Rays of recent history we remember. It seemed like Tampa was contending as a low-budget underdog for years, but the truth was, they weren’t that good. As such, there will be plenty of new faces in the one-through-nine, not to mention so versatility with who plays where.
Both Miller and powerful but strikeout-happy Schimpf can DH or play second base, while new addition Cron can play the one bag or see some time at DH.
Aging Tampa native Denard Span, who came over in the December Longoria trade with the Giants, could also see time at DH to rest his older frame. Hechavarria has always been a high-glove, no-bat kinda player.
Rays Predictions: Projected Rotation:
- LH Chris Archer
- RH Nathan Eovaldi
- RH Jake Faria
- LH Blake Snell
- RH Matt Andriese
The Tampa Bay Rays franchise is just a sausage-maker that churns out appetizing young pitchers. Faria and Snell are intriguing young options, as is Brent Honeywell, who has plenty of moxie but was just diagnosed with a torn UCL. Recently-acquired Anthony Banda could feature also.
Basically, Tampa Bay’s starting rotation is barely recognizable. Only Archer and starter/bullpen ‘tweener Andriese are familiar faces. It could be a long year in quirky, cavernous ole Tropicana Field.
Rays Predictions: Projected Closer:
- RH Alex Colome
The veteran righty racked up 47 saves in 2017 and compiled a respectable 3.24 ERA and 1.20 WHIP while he was at it. Colome has the devastating heater and likely still has some bullets in the chamber at age 29. There was interest in Colome from the St. Louis Cardinals, but he will still probably be Tampa’s closer for Opening Day.
Another interesting choice could be Ryne Stanek, who has tons of velocity in his arm (98.2 mph average fastball) but hasn’t shown enough yet to be trusted in high-leverage situations.
2018 Tampa Bay Rays Prediction: 64-98
The Tampa Bay Rays were looking dubious before their recent fire sale to the Minnesota Twins, where they shipped premium starter Odorizzi and high on-base guy Logan Morrison. Archer and defensive whiz Kiermaier are likely pissed they are still on the team; there could be ample losses for the Rays in a savage American League East division.
Tampa’s front office has always possessed a shrewd eye for young talent, but things have to get worse before they get better. Even with recent impressive rebuilds like the Houston Astros and, most recently, the Twins, it takes a few years of misery to acquire the young, controllable assets a team needs.
Greenhorns like Solak, Stanek, Banda, Honeywell, Willy Adames and 2017 top pick Brendan McKay could – and maybe even should – wind up to be something eventually, but there’s bound to be some painful appearances from fringe big-leaguers in the meantime. Sadly for Florida baseball fans (seeing as the Marlins have done a huge fire sale, too) ‘the meantime’ certainly looks like this season.
One has to think Archer and Kiermaier will be pounding the table for a change of scenery come trade deadline time this campaign. Have patience, Rays fans – wherever you are.
What do you think of our 2018 Tampa Bay Rays predictions? Comments are welcome below.
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