With writing about the Rays yesterday, it got me thinking; The Rays have a deep roster at the moment. Usually a good sign and yes, I like to think of it as a great sign.
As a fan, you love to see it. Even with the outfield class being so deep last year, Tommy Pham and his .273/.369/.450 slash to go along with 21 home runs, 25 stolen bases, 68 RBI’s, and 77 runs– all with a partially torn UCL that seemed irrelevant at the time– was and is still a top 20 outfielder in baseball. Hate to see him go but in return we did get Hunter Renfroe as well as Manuel Margot in a separate trade to solidify the outfield even more. Not to mention Kiermaier starting in center, Austin Meadows in right, and it seems the Rays will give Japanese import, Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, a chance to start in left to start the season. For most teams, that is a solid group that the next tier of players shouldn’t be close in talent wise; not the Rays who STILL have Jose Martinez– who shouldn’t touch the outfield grass only in the instance of an emergency– Randy Arozarena, who was acquired from the Cardinals for top pitching prospect Matt Liberatore, is a highly capable player that could even work his way into some at bats during the season and of course Manuel Margot.
In the infield, you have Yandy Diaz at third, who showed the Rays did indeed find a diamond in the rough and capitalized by acquiring him for Jake Bauers last off-season. Willy Adames at shortstop who has a lot of potential if he can put all the pieces together, Brandon Lowe at second who was a first time All-Star last year and would have had an even bigger year if he didn’t get hurt. Daniel Robertson who luckily can play about seven position on the field but is still a useful utility player to have at all times. Joey “Two-Piece” Wendle who look to have a bounce-back season after a rough injury marred 2019. And there is a guy who hit the hell out of the ball last year in Double-A and could possibly make his debut late this season and give a couple guys a run for their money, Kevil Padlo. That is a guy everyone needs to keep in mind for the 2021 season. No need to get ahead of ourselves here though.
Then you have first base. This is where shit gets weird. The Rays have Ji-Man Choi, who the Rays plucked from the Brewers and once he stepped foot onto the sacred ground that is the Trop, his real powers showed up and he became a legit threat at the plate. Jose Martinez, as I mentioned above this is where he needs to be if he does see the field because the dude can hit and for some reason the Cardinals did not see that in him. Then you have underrated player of the bunch who in my opinion, deserves more publicity than he is receiving, Nate Lowe. Last year, Lowe slashed .263/.325/.454 with seven home runs, 19 RBI’s, and eight doubles through only 152 at bats. He’s a big left handed bat with a swing that can do damage. Give the man 500 at bats and those seven home runs will turn into 25 home runs and once he figures out his swing and Major League pitching, he has the potential to become a legit 30 home run threat in years to come. These are the types of players that just need consistent playing time to get their timing down and understand how big league pitchers are going to pitch them. He needs a chance.
The problem for Lowe is that Rays are extremely left handed heavy in their lineup. Kiermaier, Brandon Lowe, Meadows, Ji-Man Choi and now Yoshi (I’m already tired of typing his whole name out). That’s five players out of a possible 10 for all you geniuses out there and there needs to be some sort of balance. It’s going to be an obvious platoon between Nate Lowe, Jose Martinez, Ji-Man and it seems the Rays will just ride the hot hand between Ji-Man and Nate Lowe. Lowe, however, does have some Minor League options available which will not work in his favor for the big league club but hopefully he will force managements hand by playing good enough to not be sent down.
Whichever the case, the Rays are set up nice for the trade deadline this year if they needs to “go all in” depending on the situation they put themselves in. For now, the Rays have great depth that they will utilize, like always, and hopefully become the powerhouse in the AL East everyone wants them to be. Including Marcus Anderson. Thank you.