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Inbox: What's in store for Duffy?

Beat reporter Juan Toribio answers questions from fans
January 24, 2019

What does Matt Duffy's future with the Rays look like? Is there one? -- @Jack3Mit via Twitter Duffy, 28, projects to be the starting third baseman for the Rays. One challenge manager Kevin Cash will have this season will be to find a way to give consistent at-bats to all

What does Matt Duffy's future with the Rays look like? Is there one?
-- @Jack3Mit via Twitter

Duffy, 28, projects to be the starting third baseman for the Rays. One challenge manager Kevin Cash will have this season will be to find a way to give consistent at-bats to all the quality infielders Tampa Bay has on the roster. Daniel Robertson, Yandy Diaz and Joey Wendle will play all over the infield, including third base, and matchups will determine a lot of what the Rays do with their lineup on a daily basis. The team is confident with the roster it has heading into this season, but the organization has preached the importance of having depth on the roster.
Despite not hitting for much power, Duffy was a pleasant surprise for the Rays last season after he missed the entire 2017 season with a left foot injury. Duffy finished with a .294/.361/.366 slash line in '18, and his priority for this upcoming season was to add 10-15 pounds during the offseason. How each infielder performs will ultimately dictate playing time, but as of now, the Rays are planning on entering Spring Training with Duffy as a key part of their infield.
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Hearing the Rays are interested in Josh Harrison. How would he fit in? And if they do sign him, could they use their excess of infielders to make a trade for J.T. Realmuto or Edwin Encarnacion?
-- @facksy11 via Twitter

The Rays have inquired about Harrison, which makes sense after the team also checked in on infielder DJ LeMahieu before he ultimately signed with the Yankees. While Tampa Bay has a lot of infielders, it doesn't have a lot of guys who have had sustained success at the big league level. If the Rays were to add Harrison, that would give them another veteran presence in the clubhouse. With a move for Harrison, or another infielder, they could elect to have the players compete for spots during Spring Training, or they could definitely use one of them and package them for a deal for another position of need.
While Tampa Bay believes it will be very competitive in 2019, the Rays are also aware that they have a young group and there's still some unknown on how they will perform next season, which is why they'll continue to look for pieces that will add more depth, regardless of the position.
Are the Rays and Tommy Pham talking multiyear deal as we wait for arbitration?
-- @MatGermain76 via Twitter

The Rays will look to find a way to sign Pham to a multiyear deal after not being able to come to a settlement earlier this month, but that seems unlikely at this point. Pham has been vocal about wanting a long extension, but the salary number is always the point of topic with Pham. He turned down an extension from the Cardinals during his time in St. Louis. Pham could benefit more from having a much more productive season in 2019 before looking to try and sign a big-money contract.

How will Jose De Leon be used?
-- @missymetz via Twitter

There's a very good chance that the Rays will use De Leon as the length guy to follow an opener, once he's ready to join the big league club. De Leon was projected to be a big piece of the plan last season, but he underwent Tommy John surgery during Spring Training. The 26-year old right-hander will get the occasional start this season, but his main role will come as a multi-inning reliever.
Using the opener strategy could cause the Rays to carry a lot of pitchers on the 25-man roster. Will this force guys like Wendle and Robertson into utility roles again, or do they have chances to lock into position?
-- @AbnRngr96 via Twitter

Using the opener doesn't change the way the Rays utilize their bullpen. In fact, depending on how the team decides to shape up the roster, there's a chance Tampa Bay can carry one less pitcher because of the depth the team has with pitchers who can give you multiple innings, as opposed to the traditional one-inning relievers.
As for Wendle and Robertson, they're the two most versatile players on the roster, and the Rays will try and utilize their talents in any capacity. The idea is to get their bat in the lineup, regardless of where they play. I don't see either of them being named the everyday second baseman, as Tampa Bay will look to be as versatile as it can in 2019.

Juan Toribio covers the Rays for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @Juanctoribio.