We don't know what moves the Rays will make this off-season, just that there will be some big ones as they look to cut payroll and decide whether to try to remain competitive or go for a rebuild. With the annual winter meetings next week at Disney, we are looking today at some of their hottest topics:
In allowing eight players who were big parts of their team in 2017, and some for many years, to become free agents, the Rays run the risk of having to face them on a regular basis.
With trades, they can try to control that, rarely dealing with the other AL East teams – the July 31 deal of INF Tim Beckham to the Orioles an exception.
But with the ex-Rays on the free agent market, they have no say, and the potential for considerable regrets.
Most concerning from this year's class would be RHP Alex Cobb, who is rumored to be receiving interest from the Yankees and Orioles, and could be of interest to the Red Sox as well. (The NL Central Cubs, though, with former Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey joining ex-manager Joe Maddon in Chicago, may be the favorites.)
Knowing how well Cobb came back in 2017 in his first full season after Tommy John elbow surgery, and how fierce of a competitor he is, the prospect of facing him potentially six times a year is not an appealing one for the Rays.
Here is the list of players off their 2017 roster they have allowed to become free agents:
RHP Alex Cobb
1B/DH Logan Morrison
1B/DH Lucas Duda
RHP Steve Cishek
RHP Tommy Hunter
RHP Sergio Romo
OF Peter Bourjos
LHP Xavier Cedeno
OF Trevor Plouffe
OF/DH Colby Rasmus
RHP Shawn Tolleson
C Curt Casali (signed minor-league deal with Angels)
OF Cesar Puello