Sorting Out The Initial Rays Roster Churn, Decisions To Be Made

Rays Roster Churn Begins Shortly After Conclusion Of World Series When Injured Players Need To Be Activated

Tampa, FL – The Tampa Bay Rays Rays roster churn begins now. While they have until November 19th to formalize their 40-man roster and protect their minor league players from the Rule 5 draft, the first step to constructing that roster will take place shortly after the conclusion of the World Series. At that time, teams have to activate their players off the 60-day disabled list as well as determine if any pending minor league free agents are worthy of adding to the roster.

The end of season roster moves have to end in a team having no more than 40 players on their roster. Currently, Tampa Bay has 39 players on its active 40-man roster, one player on the Covid list (Adam Conley) which isn’t counted against the 40 (Rays never filled his spot). Of the 39 active players, four of them (Collin McHugh, David Robertson, Michael Wacha, and Nelson Cruz) will be free agents bringing the roster count down to 35.

Tampa Bay also has to decide whether or not to exercise their team option on catcher Mike Zunino. The likelihood of that happening is close to 100-percent; therefore, for this roster calculation it’s assumed that the option will be picked up.

Rays Who’s Who Of Possible Additions:

Then there is the 60-day injured list, which is an astounding 12 players deep. This may be a reflection to as to why the Rays were forced to use a record 61 players including 38 pitchers to get through the 2021 season. The 12 players include Chris Archer, Jalen Beeks, Yonny Chirinos, Oliver Drake, Tyler Glasnow, Tommy Hunter, DJ Johnson, Colin Poche, Cody Reed, Chaz Roe, Jeffrey Springs, and Ryan Thompson. Three of these 12 players, Chris Archer, Tommy Hunter, and Chaz Roe are set to hit the free agent market leaving the Rays with 9 players that need to be added to the 40 man roster.

Normally, if a team is interested in retaining a minor league player due to hit free agency, that player will be selected to the 40-man roster and utilized at some point during the season. While not unheard of, it’s not common to see teams add pending minor league free agents to the 40 man roster when juggling the end of season decisions.

Erik Neander and the front office have a decision to make regarding breakout standout Rene Pinto who will turn 25 in early November, The right-handed hitting catcher signed as an international free agent with the Rays in October of 2013 and spent his entire minor league career in the organization.

He was a minor league free agent last winter and signed with Tampa Bay in February. He opened the season with the Rays Double-A affiliate Montgomery Biscuits and appeared in 41 games batting .242/.322/.458 earing a promotion to the Rays Triple-A affiliate Durham Bulls. With the Bulls he appeared in 52 games and hit .299/.327/.532. Between the two levels he posted an impressive .274/.325/.500 slash line spanning 382 plate appearances adding 20 homers. His performance certainly is one that warrants consideration to an early 40-man roster spot as a trip to the free agent market is more than likely going to yield him a big league deal somewhere.

The final tally of players to make decisions on shortly after the end of the World Series is 11: Jalen Beeks (LHP), Yonny Chirinos (RHP), Oliver Drake (RHP), Tyler Glasnow (RHP), DJ Johnson (RHP), Colin Poche (LHP), Cody Reed (LHP), Jeffrey Springs (LHP), Ryan Thompson (RHP), Adam Conley (LHP), and Rene Pinto (MiLB Catcher).

There are currently five open 40-man spots. Decisions have to be made as to how many of the 11 to add and whose spot on the 40-man roster might be eliminated to accommodate the transaction.

Rays To Be Added To 40-Man:

Starting with the low hanging fruit. Without hesitation, seven players Jalen Beeks, Yonny Chirinos, Tyler Glasnow, Colin Poche, Jeffrey Springs, Ryan Thompson, and Adam Conley all should be added to the 40 man roster. This first group of transactions would require at least one player from the current 40-man roster to be removed.

Of the remaining injured players, Oliver Drake, DJ Johnson, and Cody Reed will not be added to the 40-man roster and will enter the free agent market. The Rays may be interested in re-signing any of the three to minor league deals at any point in the offseason.

This leaves the decision of whether or not to add pending minor league free agent Rene Pinto to the 40-man. This decision impacts future decisions with setting the 40-man in December because Tampa Bay has two other catchers (Blake Hunt, Ford Proctor) to decide whether or not to add to the roster to protect them from being selected in the Rule 5 draft. It should be noted, the Rays can achieve a lot of roster relief via trades between the setting of the roster after the World Series and November 19th. Including adding and trading Rene Pinto.

I believe it’s a slightly better than 50/50 chance that the Rays will add Rene Pinto to their 40-man. They could always add him and trade him or shop Hunt/Proctor in deals between now and November to alleviate the crunch at the catching position.

Rays To Be Removed From 40-Man:

Eight players to add to the 40-man roster and only five open spots. Three players have to be removed from the roster to facilitate these transactions.

Three left-handed relievers are on my list to add back to the roster: Jalen Beeks, Colin Poche, and Jeffrey Springs. For that reason left-handed relievers Dietrich Enns and Ryan Sherriff will be removed from the roster. The final player to be removed from the 40-man roster will be right handed reliever Chris Mazza.

If the Rays decide to allow Rene Pinto to test the free agent market, it’s more than likely that they will keep either Enns or Mazza on the roster.

Rays Projected Roster:

Pitchers (22): Nick Anderson, Shane Baz, Jalen Beeks, JT Chargois, Yonny Chirinos, Adam Conley, Pete Fairbanks, J.P. Feyereisen, Josh Fleming, Tyler Glasnow, Louis Head, Brent Honeywell, Andrew Kittredge, Shane McClanahan, Brendan McKay, Luis Patino, Colin Poche, Drew Rasmussen, Jeffrey Springs, Ryan Thompson, Matt Wisler, Ryan Yarbrough,

Catchers (3): Mike Zunino, Francisco Mejia, Rene Pinto

Infielders (7): Mike Brosseau, Ji-Man Choi, Yandy Diaz, Wander Franco, Brandon Lowe, Taylor Walls, Joey Wendle

Outfielders (8): Randy Arozarena, Vidal Brujan, Kevin Kiermaier, Josh Lowe, Jordan Luplow, Manuel Margot, Austin Meadows, Brett Phillips

As the winter moves on the Rays will make other decisions impacting the roster including free agent signings, trades, and non-tendering of players. The initial roster forecasted above will look very different come November 19th when it needs to be set ahead of the Rule 5 draft. How different? Well, it’s the Tampa Bay Rays, an organization that zigs when everyone else thinks their going to zag. Who knows.

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I am a fan of all sports but am most passionate about baseball. From the fanatical to analytical, nothing about the game escapes me. Being born and raised in Northeast Ohio I'm very familiar with the heartache and pain that sports can bring and hope that I bring some understanding of the other side to my coverage. I will focus mostly on baseball but also cover the Tampa Bay Lightning, one of the most electric franchises in all of sports. Always willing to converse about any sport and have only one rule and that is be respectful at all times.