TAMPA BAY RAYS
- 2017 finish: 80-82 (3rd in AL East)
- Manager: Kevin Cash (228-258, 4th season)
- Top baseball ops executive: Matthew Silverman, president of baseball operations (4th season)
DOLLARS AND SENSE
- Highest-paid player: OF Denard Span ($11 million in 2018)
- Top returning position player: OF Kevin Kiermaier (5.1 WAR in 2017, baseball-reference.com)
- Top returning pitcher: RHP Jake Faria (1.4 WAR in 2017)
- Key addition(s): 1B C.J. Cron (trade), OF Carlos Gomez (free agent), LHP Anthony Banda (trade), OF Denard Span (trade), SS Christian Arroyo (trade), 2B Joey Wendle (trade), RHP Daniel Hudson (trade), LHP Jonny Venters (minor league free agent), RHP Dustin McGowan (minor league free agent).
- Key subtraction(s): 3B Evan Longoria (trade), 1B Logan Morrison (free agent), OF Steven Souza Jr. (trade), OF Corey Dickerson (trade), RHP Jake Odorizzi (trade), 1B Lucas Duda (free agent), RHP Alex Cobb (free agent), OF Colby Rasmus (free agent), RHP Steve Cishek (free agent), RHP Sergio Romo (free agent), 3B Trevor Plouffe (free agent), RHP Tommy Hunter (free agent), RHP Brad Boxberger (trade).
- Baseball America top-100 prospect(s): RHP Brent Honeywell (No. 14), SS Willy Adames (No. 19), LHP/1B Brendan McKay (No. 39), 1B Jake Bauers (No. 45), OF Jesus Sanchez (No. 49), SS Wander Franco (No. 96).
STORYLINES TO WATCH
- In 2017, The Rays – a target of the players union’s grievance regarding revenue sharing spending – finished below .500 for the fourth straight year since a 92-win campaign in 2013 earned them a wild-card postseason berth. They’ve since traded away 3B Evan Longoria, OF Steven Souza, OF Corey Dickerson and RHP Jake Odorizzi and allowed 1B Logan Morrison, DH Lucas Duda and RHP Alex Cobb to depart via free agency.
- For all his upside, RHP Chris Archer has posted losing records the last three years and his WAR over that span has dropped from 4.8 to 1.8 to 1.2. He’s due about $14 million over the next two years and the Rays hold team options for $9 million in 2020 and $11 million in 2021. The Rays could shop him if they find himself out of contention by the All-Star break.
- Pitching prospect Brent Honeywell was an obvious candidate to fill a void in a rotation that finished ninth in ERA (4.08), but he injured his elbow early in camp and is lost for the year to Tommy John surgery. Pitching prospect Jose De Leon will also miss the season to an elbow reconstruction, further thinking the Rays’ organizational depth.
- 84 wins