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Tampa Bay Rays

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Projected WARMarket Value

14.8 133


14.7 132


2.5 23


Projected WAR by grouping is from Fangraphs’ depth charts.
Historically each win is worth ~$9 million on the free agent market

Projected Team

  • Denard Span, DH
  • Matt Duffy, 3B
  • Kevin Kiermaier, CF
  • Carlos Gomez, RF
  • Brad Miller, 2B
  • Wilson Ramos, C
  • C.J. Cron, 1B
  • Adeiny Hechavarria, SS
  • Mallex Smith, LF
  • Chris Archer, RHP
  • Blake Snell, LHP
  • Nathan Eovaldi, RHP
  • Jacob Faria, RHP
  • Kevin Cash

Health Check

“At how many positions can the Rays reassemble humpty dumpty? If there’s a year to find out, it’s during a rebuild, where any veterans not working out can be easily supplanted by prospects who need to be promoted in 2018 either way.

If any position should incur an injury or falter, the Rays have one of the best farm systems in baseball ready to answer the call, featuring SS Willy Adames, INF Christian Arroyo, 1B/OF Jake Bauers, SP Anthony Banda, three relievers pumping triple digits, and enough arms in Triple-A to field a second major league bullpen.

And the Rays will compliment all of those previously-great names with a few homegrown players as well. Closer Alex Colome, a 2016 All-Star who led all of Major League Baseball in saves last season, was surprisingly not traded. Starters Blake Snell and Jake Faria held their own in the AL East last season and hope to continue that form. Utility infielder Daniel Robertson has an open door to claiming second base for his own.

The Rays are ready for 2018, and the prospects should be ready for their moment too.”

—DRays Bay

Key Player

Kevin Kiermaier is a generational talent with the glove. His only disappointment in a Rays uniform has been failing to reach the innings requirement to qualify for his third consecutive Gold Glove in 2017 due to time missed for a hairline fracture mid-year. And yet, so great is his defense that he nearly matched the winner Byron Buxton’s DRS total (24) despite missing two months of the season (KK ended the year with 22).

Since KK entered the league in 2014, no one has more Defensive Runs Saves in center field (Kiermaier has 90, the next highest is 52), nor does anyone have a better UZR/150 (min. 800 innings), and those best in baseball marks still apply if you expand to all outfielder positions (where Kiermaier has 103 total DRS, and a sky-high 27.5 UZR/150).

In case you need the reminder: Kevin Kiermaier is the best outfield defender in baseball.

But it goes beyond defense: Kiermaier has grown by leaps and bounds at the plate, increasing his OPS+ from 99 to 104 to 114 in 2017, proving himself to be a capable leadoff hitter for the Tampa Bay Rays. Based on handedness, Kiermaier is expected to hit either first or second in the order from here on out. At age 28, he’s just entering his prime, and with ever improving power, The Outlaw will look for his first 20-20 season in 2018.

—Danny Russell, DRays Bay

Best Case

The Rays finished 80-82 in 2017, and then either traded away their top bats or let them walk in free agency. Jake Odorizzi was dealt, two of their young, promising pitchers will miss 2018 with injuries sustained in the spring, and adding C.J. Cron and Carlos Gomez to the mix isn’t going to be enough to fix all of that. So, the best-case for the Rays in 2018 doesn’t necessarily involve the big-league club’s results in the standings, but what they can get out of the pieces they expect to still be around the next time the Rays are challenging for a postseason spot. If the new prospects they brought in thrive, that’s good news. If anyone else who is traded in-season brings back a huge haul, great. 2018 isn’t necessarily about 2018, especially not after injuries to the players who were supposed to help them stay relevant amid all the exporting.

Worst Case

Well, the Rays could have traded away all of these players who could help them win now, sustained injuries to two young and promising pitchers, and then see most or all of the prospects they acquired in exchange for Evan Longoria and the rest of the former Rays bunch fail to pan out or give any hope for the future. And their new ballpark deal could fall through, too, but that’s more “mean thing to throw on to the end of the worst-case paragraph” than an actual possibility.