It just seems like yesterday. Rays fans were second-guessing Rays manager Kevin Cash as he went to the mound to pull Blake Snell in a crucial game five of the World Series.
Here we are in late January and as the calendar moves to February, the Tampa Bay Rays will begin preparations to defend their American League Championship.
In just three weeks pitchers and catchers will report to Port Charlotte, with the first full-squad workout scheduled for February 23rd.
The Rays will play their first spring training game on February 27th in Port Charlotte against the Minnesota Twins.
This has been an interesting off-season for the Rays since taking the Dodgers to six games in the World Series.
The Rays opted not to re-sign their best starting pitcher from last season, Charlie Morton, who promptly signed a one-year deal with the Atlanta Braves.
The Rays then traded starting pitcher Blake Snell to the San Diego Padres for prospects Luis Patino, Blake Hunt, Cole Wilcox, and Francisco Mejia.
Patino will be given every opportunity in spring training to secure a spot in the rotation.
The Rays are not as good as a team as they were last year. Manager Kevin Cash in an interview with The Tampa Bay Times, noted that these were difficult moves to make. “It’s tough,” None of these decisions are easy. But we work within the parameters we think are best for the organization. Trading Blake Snell was extremely tough. Not having Charlie back is really, really tough.”
“You could make the argument, make the case, that from a starting pitching standpoint, we took a step back. But we’re very excited about the guys we have that are going to come in to compete for the opportunity.”
And so it begins the Rays will once again try to put a starting rotation together that can compete in the America League East and get them back to the playoffs.
With Corey Kluber’s signing and trading for Jameson Tallon, the New York Yankees now have the best pitching in the American League.
The Toronto Blue Jays improved their ball club with the signing of George Springer. The Jays also strengthened their bullpen with the signings of Tyler Chatwood and Kirby Yates.
It will not be an easy run for the Rays in this year’s AL East.
–The Rays once again have the number one prospect in baseball in 19-year-old shortstop Wander Franco. Franco has been the number one prospect in the Rays organization for two years and should get an opportunity at the Major League level this season.
In addition to Franco, the Rays placed outfielder Randy Arozarena, pitcher Luis Patino, third basemen Vidal Brujan, and pitcher Shane McClanahan on baseball’s list of the top 100 prospects.