Predicting Rays' Opening Day roster

Multiple players set to play multiple spots entering spring

February 10th, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays pride themselves on fielding a team full of players that are capable of playing multiple positions. Having such players allows manager Kevin Cash to get creative with his 25-man roster, but it also creates some tough decisions during camp.
A lot can change during Spring Training, but here's the first attempt to try and predict the 25-man roster Tampa Bay will trot out on Opening Day against the Astros.
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Catcher (2): , Michael Perez
Adding Zunino was the first big move for the Rays during the offseason and he's expected to get most of the playing time behind the dish. Perez will go into camp competing with for the backup spot, but Perez showed enough ability at the plate to get the leg up over Ciuffo, who could benefit from consistent at-bats at Triple-A Durham to start the year.
First base (1):
It'll be interesting to see how Diaz transitions to playing mostly first base during spring, but the Rays are confident that he can be good enough defensively to play the position. He won't be the only one playing first base for the Rays, but Diaz will get most of the playing time here, at least until the club's No. 13 prospect per MLB Pipeline, Nate Lowe, is ready to get called up to the big league club.
Second base (2): , Brandon Lowe
Wendle will move all around the field, but second base should be the position where he sees most of his time. As for Lowe, his ability to play multiple positions -- possibly even first base -- is a big reason why he's projected to make the 25-man roster. Lowe showed that he belonged at the big league level last season, but depending on what route the Rays elect to go with the roster, Lowe's spot could wind up being one of the hot topics this spring.

Third base (2): ,
If healthy, Duffy and Robertson are near locks to make the Opening Day roster, but the competition heading into spring will be which of the two will open the season as the starting third baseman. Robertson will also see time at second base, shortstop and left field, which should open up some extra playing time for Duffy.
Shortstop (1):
Of the young core, Adames seems to be establishing himself as the future face of the franchise. He hit .305 in the second half of the season and quickly became a clubhouse leader. The Rays expect a big season out of their young shortstop.
Outfield (4): , , ,
There won't be any drama out of this group. Pham, Kiermaier and Meadows will anchor the outfield, with Garcia getting most of his playing time as the designated hitter. , who was acquired from Seattle in the same deal that the Rays acquired Zunino, also has a chance to make the roster as another outfield option. Heredia, however, still has options and could start the year in Durham.
Designated Hitter (1):
Choi could play first base, but most of his value comes at the DH spot against right-handed pitchers. The Rays can afford having a DH-only player on the roster due to the versatility of the other players. Garcia will get most of the work against left-handed pitchers.
Starting pitchers (3): , ,
Snell, the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner, will lead the way for the Rays, but he has some help in 2019. Morton adds another quality starter and is a proven veteran, while Glasnow has all the tools to be a starting pitcher, now it's just a matter of putting them together.

Relief pitchers (9): , , , , , , , ,
Determining the bullpen will be the toughest task for Cash and the Rays during the spring. It remains to be seen just how many bullpen arms Tampa Bay wants to carry on Opening Day due to the fact that the Rays have plenty of players that can pitch multiple innings. In this projection, , and would be left off the Opening Day roster. Of the three, Faria has a good shot at making the roster if he shows the same potential he did during the 2017 season. Wood, Beeks and No. 24 prospect Colin Poche will all find their way to the big leagues at some point in 2019.

Now that we've completed the task of predicting the 25-man roster, let's take a look at what it could look like on Opening Day.
Mike Zunino
Michael Perez
Yandy Diaz
Joey Wendle
Brandon Lowe
Willy Adames
Matt Duffy
Daniel Robertson
Tommy Pham
Kevin Kiermaier
Austin Meadows
Avisail Garcia
Ji-Man Choi
Blake Snell
Charlie Morton
Tyler Glasnow
Ryan Yarbrough
Yonny Chirinos
Wilmer Font
Jose Alvarado
Chaz Roe
Diego Castillo
Adam Kolarek
Emilio Pagan
Ryne Stanek