The Tampa Bay Rays just keep finding ways to win. Trade a key part of their rotation and lose their staff ace for the year due to injury? No big deal. Trade their closer at the deadline? Well, the assembly line of relievers will just need to kick it up another notch.
That was how the Rays handled the 2021 season, with 15 different pitchers getting a start and 13 different relievers recording saves. And, as usual, that worked in the regular season, as the Rays won 100 games. However, it led to an early exit, as they lost to the Red Sox in the ALDS.
Three moves for the Tampa Bay Rays this offseason
Even with that early exit, the mission remains the same – to win a championship despite their payroll limitations. With one of the best front offices in the business, and a knack for finding bargains in free agency, the Rays may find themselves back in the playoffs in 2022. But some work needs to be done first.
The Tampa Bay Rays are still searching for their first championship. Here are some moves that could help in that quest.
Extend the future stars
The Tampa Bay Rays have been known to extend their young players as soon as they possibly can. It is time to see if they can do that again with a pair of their young stars.
Randy Arozarena had already burst onto the scene in the 2020 postseason, becoming the modern day Mr. October during his record setting performance. However, as he was still considered a rookie heading into the 2021 campaign, he continued to lead the Rays offense en route to being named the AL Rookie of the Year.
Wander Franco had been considered one of the top prospects in baseball for years before his debut. He did not disappoint, finishing third in the Rookie of the Year vote despite missing a portion of the season as he was in the minors. Both Arozarena and Franco showed that they could be the faces of the Rays going forward.
And they should be. For all of their success, the Rays have lacked that presence since Evan Longoria was traded to the Giants. With Arozarena’s personality and Franco’s excellent all around game, they have two players that could easily step into that void.
Randy Arozarena and Wander Franco can be a significant part of the Tampa Bay Rays for a long time. The Rays should look to extend both as soon as possible.