After being the best team in the American League during the regular season, the Rays have to be endlessly disappointed with their ALDS exit. The team had high hopes for 2021 after reaching the World Series last year but fell well short of its goals. That should set up an intriguing 2021-22 MLB offseason for the Rays, especially since they usually aren’t among the most active teams during the offseason.
The silver lining is that there aren’t many upcoming Tampa Bay Rays free agents, which should limit the Rays’ offseason needs. Nevertheless, The Rays offseason in 2021 will include some important decisions and may require some bold moves to fill the team’s needs.
Rays offseason needs 2021
Of course, the Rays’ offseason needs and plans are complicated by Tampa’s lack of financial flexibility. The Rays are never going to be players for the top free agents on the market during the 2021-22 MLB offseason. While that hasn’t stopped them from being one of the best teams in baseball, it does handcuff them a little. Nevertheless, here are some of the Rays’ offseason needs that they will need to address one way or another if they hope to be a contender in 2022.
They also lost Tyler Glasnow to an injury in the middle of the 2021 season and likely won’t have him in 2022.
Despite improvements in other areas, the lack of a proven ace on the staff is the biggest reason why the Rays reached the 2020 World Series but fell short in 2021.
Tyler Glasnow on what makes the Rays' Pitching staff successful. pic.twitter.com/wAoaEdWg9n
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) October 8, 2021
Obviously, they aren’t going to be buying an ace on the free-agent market this winter. But one way or another, the Rays need to upgrade the top of their rotation, likely through the trade market. Even with plenty of young, homegrown arms, the Tampa rotation is missing something that the Rays will need in 2022.
The Rays made an aggressive move over the summer by trading for Nelson Cruz, although he’s one of the few upcoming Tampa Bay Rays free agents this winter, which means he’ll have to be replaced.
Even if Cruz wants to play another season, the Rays may not be able to afford him. However, if they do spend some money in free agency this winter, the DH would be a good place to spend it.
Granted, Tampa has other options on its roster, but nobody who fits the mold as a full-time DH. They can help complement the rest of their lineup by adding a pure power hitter in the mold of Cruz in the middle part of the lineup.
Unfortunately for the Rays, they are one of the few teams that need to cut payroll every year.
In addition to Glasnow, there are several players who are arbitration-eligible this winter whose salaries could exceed Tampa’s payroll.
This includes pitchers Andrew Kittredge, Ryan Yarbrough, and Nick Anderson, as well as Austin Meadows, Manuel Margot, Joey Wendle, and Yandy Diaz. There’s a good chance that the Rays might not be able to afford all of these players, so a few may be non-tendered, creating the need for cost-efficient replacements.