Rays announce Opening Day 2023 roster

March 30th, 2023

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays usually take their time before setting their Opening Day roster, waiting until the deadline to make their final moves. But they essentially confirmed their 26-man squad before Monday’s Spring Training finale, an 8-4 loss to the Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Tampa Bay concluded one position battle Sunday by naming Josh Fleming the fifth starter, assuming the injured ’s spot. The rest of the decisions came down on Monday morning, and the roster was essentially set following Wednesday’s pre-Opening Day workout at Tropicana Field.

Outfielder and first baseman/outfielder cracked the Opening Day roster as the club’s final two position players. The remaining bullpen jobs went to right-handers and . Infielder , infielder/outfielder and reliever were optioned to Triple-A Durham.

“[We] had some really good conversations today and some obviously difficult ones, but I appreciate the way the guys on both ends took it,” manager Kevin Cash said on Monday. “That goes a long way, just shows the character of our group.”

On Wednesday, the Rays placed right-handed reliever (neck tightness), righty starter (Tommy John recovery) and Glasnow (left oblique strain) on the 15-day injured list, as expected. Tampa Bay made its Opening Day roster official on Thursday, and this is what it looks like.

Catchers (2): ,
Bethancourt became the Rays’ front-line catcher down the stretch last season, but he and Mejía should split time behind the plate this year.

First baseman (1):
Díaz will start at third base occasionally, but he’s expected to play “a lot” at first, with Raley available as a left-handed-hitting option.

Second baseman (1):
After a season disrupted by back injuries, Lowe is healthy and swinging without pain.

Shortstop (1):
Franco said he’s good to go after a brief bout with right quad soreness, and the Rays need as much of him as they can get. When he gets days off, or gets off his feet, expect to see slick-fielding  at shortstop.

Third base (1):
Walls will also play third, but the Rays’ primary option should be Paredes, who launched 20 homers last season. He could also play some first and second base.

Outfielders (5): , , , Harold Ramírez
Siri is the starting center fielder. Arozarena can play the corners. Margot can play all over. Ramírez is capable of manning both corners and first base, but he’s more likely to be the primary designated hitter. Noticeably more comfortable in camp, Lowe made his second straight Opening Day roster and believes he’s better equipped to succeed this time.

“Staying within myself is going to be another big thing, not trying to do too much. Just go out there and be Josh Lowe,” Lowe said. “That's going to be the biggest thing, and I'm excited to go out and do that.”

Utility (2): ,
The slick-fielding Walls will work around the infield. Raley was as impressive as anyone in camp this spring, hitting for average and launching five homers, and his ability to play first base further bolstered his case for a spot on the roster.

“We like Luke a lot. How much we liked him [before], we probably like him that much more [now],” Cash said. “The bat is one thing, but being able to go over there and play first base the way he has could be really helpful for us.”

Starting pitchers (5): , , , ,
This group will be without Glasnow until at least May. McClanahan, Eflin and Springs are in line to face the Tigers, with Rasmussen and Fleming likely taking the ball in the Rays’ second series at Washington.

Relief pitchers (8): Pete Fairbanks, Jason Adam, Garrett Cleavinger, Jalen Beeks, Colin Poche, Ryan ThompsonCalvin Faucher,
The first six were locks from the start, and ’s unspecified neck injury left the Rays with two available jobs. One went to Faucher, who displayed dazzling stuff and more confidence behind it. 

“The strike-throwing has been elite. The stuff is outstanding,” Cash said. “If that just carries over now to these games that count, we're going to have a pretty good reliever with us.”

The other spot was claimed by Kelly, a Rule 5 Draft acquisition. The Rays privately informed the sidearming right-hander weeks ago that he would break camp with the team, hoping that would put him at ease in a difficult situation. But they asked him to keep it quiet -- and did he ever.

Even Kelly’s parents had to wait until Monday to learn that he’ll be a big leaguer.

“I've never felt something like this, so it's hard to explain,” Kelly said. “It's awesome having your dreams come true.”

So will his parents be there to see it Thursday?

“I think they already have tickets,” he said, smiling.