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Inbox: Are Rays still in mix for Realmuto?

Beat reporter Juan Toribio answers questions from fans
January 17, 2019

Are the Rays still in the mix for J.T. Realmuto and/or Jose Martinez? -- @theicchamp11 via TwitterEven with the acquisition of outfielder Avisail Garcia, the Rays will continue to look for ways to improve, and that includes going after Realmuto, Martinez and others. The Marlins have been consistent with their

Are the Rays still in the mix for J.T. Realmuto and/or Jose Martinez?
-- @theicchamp11 via Twitter

Even with the acquisition of outfielder Avisail Garcia, the Rays will continue to look for ways to improve, and that includes going after Realmuto, Martinez and others. The Marlins have been consistent with their asking price, and it remains to be seen whether any club will meet their demands. Tampa Bay can check off every box on Miami's asking price, which includes a young Major League player and a variety of top prospects. Realmuto is one of the best catchers -- if not the best -- in baseball and the Rays will look to acquire someone of that caliber if the offer fits their plans.
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It's also worth noting that Realmuto only has two more years of control, which could play a factor in Tampa Bay's pursuit. The Rays believe they can compete in 2019 and '20, but they also don't want to trade away too many of their younger players, as their goal is to have sustained success with its young nucleus.
As for Martinez, it still remains to be seen whether St. Louis is willing to trade him. With the addition of Paul Goldschmidt, it appeared that the Cardinals were going to begin shopping Martinez, but nothing has come to fruition over the past couple of months. Martinez is under control for four more seasons, so the Cards aren't forced to make any quick decision on him.
Any chance the Rays bring back Sergio Romo? He was a great clubhouse guy and would help the bullpen.
-- @KyleSmelter via Twitter

There's always a chance, especially with how slow the reliever market has been moving along, but odds are that Romo will be playing elsewhere in 2019. Romo served as the team's primary closer over the last couple of months of the season, finishing with 25 saves, but he saw a reduced role in September as the Rays continued to evaluate some of their young pitchers.
The 35-year-old had a very good impact in the clubhouse, especially with the young relievers, but it might be in the best interest of Romo and Tampa Bay to go their separate ways.

If the Rays do trade from their prospect depth for a middle-of-the-lineup bat, who would you say is the odd man out on the current roster?
-- @m_nantai via Twitter

If the Rays were to add another impact bat via trade, it would likely cost them a player or two from their current 40-man roster, plus prospects, depending on the player.
The decision of who the odd man out would be depends on who the player is and what position he is expected to play. If it's another outfielder, there's a chance that Guillermo Heredia, who still has options, starts off the season in Triple-A Durham. The same goes for Brandon Lowe, despite his ability to play second base.
If the move was for an infielder, then the decision becomes even tougher for the Rays. Tampa Bay has a lot of depth in the infield, and every player is deserving of playing in the big leagues. At the end of the day, if the Rays were to make any more additions to its roster, it'll likely be paired with another really tough roster decision. But that's a good problem to have.
What young players do you think will break out and make a name for themselves this spring, even if they don't break camp with the MLB team?
-- @z_awkwardturtle via Twitter

The Rays' farm system continues to be absolutely stacked, and there's going to be a lot of attention in the back fields when Spring Training gets going in less than a month. It's hard to pick breakout names because the Tampa Bay's Minor League Pipeline is so highly regarded, but some of the names that I will keep my eye on this spring include: outfielder Jesus Sanchez, catcher Ronaldo Hernandez, infielder Vidal Brujan, outfielder Joe McCarthy, infielder Lucius Fox, outfielder Tanner Dodson and pitchers Shane McClanahan, Brendan McKay and Curtis Taylor.
None of these players will break the 25-man roster out of camp, and there's a chance we won't see any of them until 2020, but the potential they offer is something to watch.
Hernandez projects as the catcher of the future after hitting 21 home runs in 2018. Sanchez and McCarthy were added to the 40-man roster this offseason and could make an appearance with the big league club if all goes right in the Minor Leagues, while Brujan and Fox are dynamic athletes who provide a lot of excitement.
Dodson and Taylor aren't as highly rated as the other players on the list, but Dodson, who was drafted with the 71st pick in 2018, has the potential to be another two-way player for the Rays. Taylor, who finished with a 2.37 ERA with Double-A Montgomery last season, was used as an opener four times and could be another option for the club in that role.

I was excited about the profile of Christian Arroyo when we acquired him. I understand he has had trouble staying on the field, but I hear little talk about his future. Is he still in the team's plans or has his star faded?
-- @brucecarr53 via Twitter

Yes. Arroyo is still in the team's plans, but the Rays have a couple players that are a bit more big league ready right now. The infield remains a logjam, even without considering Arroyo, and the 23-year-old still has something to prove in the Minor Leagues after suffering a plethora of injuries over the past few seasons.
The talent itself isn't in question when it comes to Arroyo, but he has dealt with multiple surgeries on his left hand, an oblique injury and even suffered a concussion while playing with Triple-A Durham last season.
Tampa Bay has a lot of options in the infield, so there's a strong chance that Arroyo begins the season in Durham, with the chance to contribute at the big league level as the season goes on.

Juan Toribio covers the Rays for MLB.com.