Friday, December 15, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay Rays' decision to hang on to pitching depth paying off early

All the talk throughout the winter and spring about the Rays' preserving their pitching depth seemed a bit manufactured, as they didn't make an expected deal to add a bat (or a front-line catcher) in trade for Jeff Niemann and Wade Davis.

But on the first weekend of the season, it looks like a pretty smart decision.

The same with the signing of free-agent reliever Fernando Rodney, a move greeted, at best, with raised eyebrows given the arms they already had in their bullpen and his recent lack of success.

With closer-designate Kyle Farnsworth idled at least the next four-six weeks to rest his ailing elbow — and assuming it's better, he'd need more time to work back to game form — suddenly the Rays find considerable comfort in having Davis and Rodney in the bullpen.

Rodney, with the most end-game experience of the remaining relievers, seems likely to take over as the unofficial closer, and Davis will be fast-tracked to start working high-leverage innings. The role could be important enough that if the Rays needed another starter, at least on a short-term basis, you wonder if they wouldn't call up Alex Cobb and keep Davis in the pen.

Of more concern is their lack of depth of position players, with OFs Sam Fuld and B.J. Upton sidelined and INF Reid Brignac playing with a plantar fascia issue in his right foot.

"Going into spring I think the one area where we had a little bit of an uncomfortable feeling was on the position player depth side, and we're really testing it now out of the gates," executive VP Andrew Friedman said. "We feel very good about what we have (at the big-league level), it's just that we're in a very tenuous spot with the depth behind it."

With Upton heading out on a rehab assignment and targeting a return during a homestand that begins April 20, they'll potentially have another decision to make soon, whether to send down Brignac or OF/C Stephen Vogt.

Comments
No big deal for Rays at winter meetings, but it’s still coming

No big deal for Rays at winter meetings, but it’s still coming

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Here’s the one thing we definitely know:Rays officials headed home from the winter meetings and back across I-4 Thursday without making deals to trade any of their bigger-name, higher-paid players. Not closer Alex Colome, not third...
Published: 12/14/17
Are Tampa Bay Rays going to make a major deal involving Alex Colome, others? Well …

Are Tampa Bay Rays going to make a major deal involving Alex Colome, others? Well …

UPDATE, 4:02: It doesn't sound like the Rays and Cardinals will be making a deal today, Derrick Goold writing for the St. Louis Post Dispatch that Cardinals execs "leave the Walt Disney Dolphin resort with good feel for what Tampa Bay would be willin...
Published: 12/14/17
Rays re-sign pitcher Jonny Venters, among 13 invited to spring training

Rays re-sign pitcher Jonny Venters, among 13 invited to spring training

LAKE BUENA VISTA — LHP Jonny Venters got as far as Triple A in September. Now the former All-Star is positioned to make it all the way back to the majors for the first time since 2012, re-signing with the Rays and headlining Thursday’s announcement o...
Published: 12/14/17
Veteran Jonny Venters, prospect Joe McCarthy among 13 Tampa Bay Rays spring invitees

Veteran Jonny Venters, prospect Joe McCarthy among 13 Tampa Bay Rays spring invitees

Inspiring veteran LHP Jonny Venters and intriguing prospect 1B/OF Joe McCarthy are among 13 players invited to major-league spring training camp with the Rays.Others coming as a result of signing minor-league contracts with invites are: RHP R.J. Alan...
Published: 12/14/17
Tampa Bay Rays lose RHP Burch Smith in Rule 5 draft, keep Nick Ciuffo

Tampa Bay Rays lose RHP Burch Smith in Rule 5 draft, keep Nick Ciuffo

The Rays lost RHP Burch Smith in Thursday's Rule 5 draft but were happy to see him get an opportunity in Kansas City.They also were pleased to hang on to C Nick Ciuffo, who was left exposed but not selected.Smith, 27, was acquired from the Padres as ...
Published: 12/14/17
Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 4

Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 4

UPDATE, 11:09: RHP Steve Cishek, who was a very effective addition to the Rays pen last season, has reunited with pitching coach Jim Hickey, agreeing to a deal with the Cubs.UPDATE, 10:40: Like most teams, Rays officials are heading out of the meetin...
Published: 12/14/17
Disney-Fox deal gives ESPN control of local cable rights to Rays, Lightning games

Disney-Fox deal gives ESPN control of local cable rights to Rays, Lightning games

As part of its deal to buy a massive package of 21st Century Fox assets, Disney will acquire Fox Sports Regional Networks, which control the local cable rights to a slew of professional teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays and Tampa Bay Lightning.Assu...
Published: 12/14/17
Tampa Bay Rays making progress in trade talks

Tampa Bay Rays making progress in trade talks

Without getting into specifics – especially the who and the where – Rays officials are for the first time talking optimistically about making a trade before the winter meetings end Thursday.Speaking at around 5:15, senior VP Chaim Bloom s...
Published: 12/13/17

Winter meetings journal: Rays trade for money to sign top international free agent

LAKE BUENA VISTA — While most of the business conducted at the meetings impacts the big-league team one way or another, the Rays are working to finalize a move they hope pays off big sometime in the 2020s.In trading Wednesday to acquire $1 million in...
Published: 12/13/17
Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 3 – updated with news

Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 3 – updated with news

UPDATE, 5:55: Trade talks apparently picked up this afternoon, perhaps related to previous activity by other teams, and for first time Rays officials sound like something could happen tonight."At this point today, some of those conversations are movi...
Published: 12/13/17