2022 record: 86-76, third in American League East
Offseason headlines: It was a rather quiet winter for the Rays, who signed a few extensions: LHP Jeffrey Springs (four years, $31 million), RHP Pete Fairbanks (three years, $12 million) and INF Yandy Diaz (three years, $24 million) and one other noteworthy contract with RHP Zach Eflin (three years, $40 million). As they have in the past, the Rays — who always seem to be in playoff contention despite one of baseball’s lowest payrolls — will rely mainly by tapping their stocked farm system and developing future stars.
Spring storylines: Can the Rays count on oft-injured RHP Tyler Glasnow? He’ll be 30 this August and has only thrown 100-plus innings once in his seven seasons. He only tossed seven innings last season following Tommy John surgery in 2021 and is on the mend from a Grade 2 left oblique strain. He is expected to be cleared to begin a throwing program soon, putting his likely return at mid-to-late April. On the brighter side, star SS Wander Franco is only 21 but has the makeup of a future MVP candidate. Could he vault into MVP contention? Despite being plagued by injuries in 2022, he was still an above-average player. All eyes will be on him to elevate the club to the next level. That’s a lot of pressure for a kid to handle.
Young guns: Top Rays prospects Taj Bradley (No. 1 according to MLB.com) and Curtis Mead (No. 2) seem poised to start at Triple-A before eventually breaking into the majors. Tampa Bay may move Randy Arozarena to right field, opening a spot for Mead in left field. As for Bradley, a right-hander ranked by MLB.com as baseball’s No. 20 prospect, he could debut before midseason.
Fall feeling: The Rays made the playoffs for the fourth straight season in 2022, but with the Yankees and Blue Jays projected to finish above them in the AL East, a wild-card spot seems more likely.
Odds, even: The Rays have the third-best odds to win the AL East (+340 at Draft Kings, +270 at FanDuel) and the ninth-best World Series odds (+2000 on FanDuel).