Part of the Rays' organizational philosophy is that bullpens are fungible, essentially made to be rebuilt each season. That process is obviously under way, as they have dropped four more relievers from last year's crew that made an American League-most 530 appearances.
In trading LHP C.J. Riefenhauser (to Seattle) and RHP Kirby Yates (to Cleveland, after being designated for assignment), the Rays lost some flexibility, two pitchers who had time in the majors without much success but had options to be shuttled to the minors.
In parting ways with RHP Brandon Gomes and LHP Jeff Beliveau (who wouldn't be ready until May at best due to shoulder surgery), they gave up some experience but little impact as they didn't see either making the team.
That's because their relief crew seems to be mostly set, and it's not even December.
They have RH Brad Boxberger, who despite some struggles led the AL with 41 saves, and LH Jake McGee at the back end and are penciling in three relievers who are out of options, RH Alex Colome and LHs Xavier Cedeno and Enny Romero. RH Steve Geltz, who made a team-high 70 appearances last year, presumably is in there as well, assuming his late-season fade was just fatigue.
RH Danny Farquhar, acquired from Seattle, and RH Andrew Bellatti, who made a big 2015 impression, are the top choices to fill out the pen. But since both have options, there is room to upgrade, which the Rays seem likely to pursue. Veterans on nonroster deals make sense, as they'll have two roster spots when RHs Alex Cobb and Chase Whitley go on the 60-day DL.
That could all change if the Rays get a great-enough offer to part with Boxberger or McGee in what has become a crowded high-end reliever market, topped by Boston's prospect-costly acquisition of Craig Kimbrel. McGee, who is getting costly by Rays standards, would seem more likely to be dealt, though some, such as ESPN's Jim Bowden, say they are "determined" to move Boxberger and "it will be a surprise" if they don't.
TENDER HANDLING: Tuesday is the next key deadline in the offseason calendar, though the Rays don't seem to have any tough calls in tendering contracts to their nine remaining arbitration-eligible players. The group, with projected salaries by mlbtraderumors.com: McGee, $4.7 million; DH/1B/OF Logan Morrison, $4.1M; RHP Alex Cobb, $4M; LHP Drew Smyly, $3.9M; 2B Logan Forsythe, $3.3M; OF Desmond Jennings, $3.1M; RHP Erasmo Ramirez, $2.8M; C Rene Rivera, $1.6M; OF Brandon Guyer, $1.3M. It can also be a big day as players non-tendered by other teams enter the free-agent market.
RAYS RUMBLINGS: Putting spring game tickets on a Cyber Monday presale is good, adding a $10 up-charge per ticket for the "opportunity" not so much. … LH J.A. Happ getting $36 million/three years from the Blue Jays is a positive sign not only for other free-agent pitchers but for teams like the Rays with less costly pitching (Smyly?) available to trade. … Jake Bauers, acquired from San Diego in the Wil Myers trade, made mlb.com's All-Arizona Fall League team for hitting .254 with a impressive .745 on-base plus slugging percentage while moving from first base to the outfield. … OF Justin Williams, acquired from Arizona in the Jeremy Hellickson deal, is leading the Australian league, hitting .390 with a 1.060 OPS through 22 games. … The Rays are one of the 15 Fox-broadcast teams that will offer in-market streaming starting in '16. … RHP Tyler Sturdevant, a 29-year-old who spent most of the past two seasons with Cleveland's Triple-A team, signed a minor-league deal with an invitation to spring training. … Boston Globe writer Peter Abraham says the Red Sox have little choice but to add an ace, and ex-Rays LHP David Price is "the guy they want." … With the season opener moved up to Sunday, April 3, the four-game series with Toronto will run through Wednesday, with Thursday, April 7, now an off day. … Congrats to radio man Andy Freed for being named a finalist for state sportscaster of the year. … OF Tyler Goeddel and RHP Parker Markel made Baseball America's list of potential Rule 5 selections.
Contact Marc Topkin at [email protected] Follow @TBTimes_Rays.