Last season the Rays were one of the best teams in baseball. With mostly the same roster as last year, they will be looking to win their third straight division title in 2022. While the division now features stars such as Trevor Story and Matt Chapman, the Rays have a generational talent in Wander Franco. With Opening Day only days away, an exciting season is on the horizon for Tampa Bay in one of baseball’s best divisions.
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Corey Kluber, RHP, 1 year/$8 Million
The Rays’ most significant addition in the offseason came in Corey Kluber. Last year, Kluber was solid in 16 starts for the Yankees and posted a 3.38 ERA. While he only pitched 80 innings, it was his highest workload since 2018, when the Alabama native made 33 starts. On a young Tampa Bay staff, he will be a veteran presence with a resume that includes a Cy Young Award. However, health will be critical, as Kluber has been limited to 24 starts over the past three seasons.
Brooks Raley, LHP, 2 years/$10 Million
As Tampa Bay bolstered their bullpen, they turned to Raley. The 33-year-old was one of the best lefties on the market and is coming off a career year. In 49 innings of work last year, Raley posted a 4.78 ERA and struck out 65 batters. He also held opponents to a .232 average and recorded ten holds. While his ERA was high, Raley thrived against left-handed hitters. He also has postseason experience which will be key for the Rays.
Brooks Raley, Wicked 80mph Back Foot Slider. 🤢
3016 RPMs. pic.twitter.com/jpbqNEH83x
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) October 16, 2021
Harold Ramirez, LF, Chicago Cubs
The Rays acquired Ramirez from the Cubs to add depth to the outfield. The 27-year-old has a .271 career average and makes a lot of contact. Ramírez is also under team control through 2025 but is out of minor league options, meaning he has to stay on the active roster. The Colombian native has made an excellent first impression with a .364 batting average in spring training.
Collin McHugh, RHP
After an impressive season in Tampa, McHugh joined the Braves on a two-year deal. In 37 games last year, the former 18th round pick posted a career-best 1.55 ERA. His season placed him among the league’s best, as his ERA was the fourth-lowest in baseball among pitchers who had thrown at least 64 innings. He will be looking to replicate his success in Atlanta and help the Braves defend their title.
Joey Wendle, INF/ OF
Although the Rays’ offseason was not filled with fireworks, they traded one of their most productive players to the Marlins, Joey Wendle. Wendle posted a .274 batting average in four seasons with the Rays and hit 25 home runs. He earned his first All-Star appearance in 2021 as he had a career-high 46 extra-base hits. While his versatility will be missed, the Rays have prospects ready to make their mark.
Michael Wacha, RHP, Red Sox
Looking to resurrect his career, Wacha signed a one-year deal with the Red Sox. While the 30-year-old stayed healthy last year, he posted a 5.05 ERA in his only season as a Ray. He pitched better down the stretch and showed some of his old form. Wacha could be a key piece for Boston early on, but became expendable for Tampa due to their pitching depth.
The future is bright for the Rays, as their young core is just getting started. In 2022 they will get a full season of Franco and Shane Baz. While Tampa Bay will be mainly relying on players with limited experience, they will be motivated after a disappointing end to the 2021 campaign. They also have a starting rotation with as much ability as any in the majors. If they can build on their success in 2022, this will not be a fun team.
Tampa Bay should once again be in the playoff picture. However, the path to the postseason will be more challenging due to a stacked division. They will also be without Tyler Glasnow but have talented arms such as Shane McClanahan to help fill the void. The Rays seem to outperform expectations every year, and 2022 figures to be more of the same. With a lineup that includes young stars such as Brandon Lowe, Randy Arozarena, and Baz, the Rays have a deep playoff run on their minds.
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