5 Tampa Bay Rays Storylines To Follow During Spring Training
5 Things To Watch During Tampa Bay Rays Spring Training
The Tampa Bay Rays' offseason, to this point, has been more about what they haven't done than what they have gotten done. Everyone expected them to trade their ace, lefty David Price, prior to the start of the 2014 season, and while there is still time to get a trade done, it looks more and more unlikely every day.
As far as what the Rays have done, it has been a decent collection of small moves. In December, the Rays re-signed catcher Jose Molina, one of the best defensive catchers in baseball -- especially with pitch framing. Just one day later, they acquired catcher Ryan Hanigan from the Cincinnati Reds. Hanigan, a much better offensive player than Molina, is also a great defensive catcher. Hanigan will likely be the starting catcher, with Molina catching on Hanigan's off days.
The Rays have done a few things that are very un-Rays-like this offseason. In a strange move, they opted to trade for a big-name reliever Heath Bell. Bell hasn't been good since 2011, with ERA's of 5.09 and 4.11 in 2012 and 2013. Bell will make $9 million in 2014, but only $4.5 million will be paid by the Rays.
In other bullpen related move, the Rays decided to give 36-year-old Grant Balfour a two year, $12 million deal. The Rays simply don't do these types of things. Paying relievers significant money isn't the greatest strategy for small market teams. The Rays are supposed to benefit from the fact that they are one of the only teams that don't believe in the "proven closer" idea, meaning they can spend their money elsewhere. For some reason, they paid a proven closer this offseason, and he is far from a guarantee to be good in 2014.
Quite frankly, the Rays won't have much to watch for in Spring Training, but there are certainly a few interesting stories to follow in the upcoming weeks. Take some time to read the following slideshow about what to watch for in Spring Training.
5. What Happens With David Price?
Will the Tampa Bay Rays eventually trade David Price before the regular season starts, or will they keep him around for another year?
Price will make $14 million in 2014, making him a fairly affordable pitcher for most teams. For the Rays, $14 million is significant money. They are probably expecting to keep him at this point, but a team could certainly swoop in and acquire him if they get desperate.
4. Who Replaces Jeremy Hellickson?
The fact that Jeremy Hellickson is going to miss six to eight weeks isn't such a terrible thing for the Tampa Bay Rays. He really isn't all that good; in his past three seasons, Hellickson has had FIPs of 4.44, 4.60 and 4.20.
Top pitching prospect Jake Odorizzi is the most likely candidate to replace Hellickson, and I'm willing to bet Hellickson won't be missed all that much.
3. Who Is Desmond Jennings?
Will this finally be the year that Desmond Jennings plays a full season and lives up to his potential? Jennings has been good so far in his young career, but he still hasn't reached his ceiling. A career .250/.330/.409 hitter with a 109 wRC+, Jennings still has some room for improvement.
2. Will Wil Myers Hit A Sophomore Slump?
Wil Myers had an outstanding rookie campaign. In 373 plate appearances, Myers hit for a .293/.354/.478 slash line with a 131 wRC+. Putting up a 2.4 fWAR in half a season's worth of plate appearances is extremely impressive, especially since Myers is a subpar defender in right field.
1. Will Any Unexpected Trades Occur?
With any team, there is always the chance for unexpected trades. The Tampa Bay Rays may end up trading a reliever or a bench bat, but nothing crazy will happen most likely, other than the previously mentioned David Price trade.