Ranking the Tampa Bay Rays’ 5 Biggest Offseason Needs

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Ranking the Tampa Bay Rays’ 5 Biggest Offseason Needs

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Every season the Tampa Bay Rays take their lower payroll to the big boys in the American League East and compete all season long. The upcoming 2014 regular season is sure to be much the same. A great deal that the Rays do is so regular that it can almost be scripted but then a lot of things they do are mysterious and prove they never tip their hand. Whatever moves they make or do not make all goes together to fill the offseason’s biggest needs.

This offseason has needs just like all the rest. They have already gone out and traded for a closer that fits their mold perfectly. Heath Bell struggled a little bit and looks to revitalize his career with the Rays. Don’t be surprised when it happens. In the same way they went out and removed one of the better available first baseman from the free agent market by re-signing James Loney.

Re-signing Loney is one of the unexpected moves that proves you can’t be too sure what the Rays will do no matter how regularly they trade players with a certain number of years left on a contract. The boys at the top having winning in mind and they will do what they can within their resources to make sure they have a chance.

That makes them one of the easiest teams in baseball to respect and like. Not all of their needs have been taken care of though. They have a few things that need addressing before the start of the season. Take a look and feel free to leave a comment below if you feel the inspiration to do so.

David Miller is a Senior Writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @davidmillerrant, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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5 – Add a Utility Player

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Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

The Rays roster is shaping up pretty well but it seems they could use one of those ever-valuable utility infielder / pinch-hitter players. One that is a free agent and comes to mind is former Rays player Elliot Johnson. Someone like him or exactly him would improve things just a tad more as they try to compete once again.

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4 – Encourage James Loney to Big Season

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Sometimes when a free agent lands a big new deal they hit a slump like crazy the next season; reference Josh Hamilton or B.J. Upton if you don’t believe me. It might not be that way for Loney however because he is signing with the same team. From the start of the spring the Rays need to ensure that he knows he is their guy and do what they can to encourage him to a big season.

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3 – Be Open to Landing Back End Starter

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Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Competition can be a vital part of taking a few good guys and making them into a solid and functioning starting rotation. The Rays would benefit from landing a solid veteran arm from the free agent market, even if it was on a minor league deal with spring training invite. This would create an atmosphere of competition where the best five could stride forward into the season.

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2 – Trade Either Jose Molina or Jose Lobaton

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Every now and then you see a team carry three catchers into the season. Usually when this happens it is because one of the three can also play an outfield spot, first base or DH. The Rays will likely trade one of their backup catchers before the start of the season. Depending on what need arises, the return could be a very good thing for them.

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1 – Hold on to David Price for Now

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

David Price has been all over rumors since forever and even suspects himself that he will be traded. That doesn’t mean the Rays will do it however. They do still have a couple of years left of contract control and that is exactly why they should wait. Most teams balked at their asking price during the MLB Winter Meetings. That is just fine and the Rays should hold on to him. By the time the trade deadline comes along, if they still want to trade him they would get even more for him. Even still, they could do the same by waiting until after the season if they are competing.

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