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Inbox: What are chances LoMo returns?

Beat reporter Bill Chastain answers questions from Rays fans
MLB.com @wwchastain

Will LoMo return as a Ray this coming season?
-- Robin J., Lakeland, Fla.

While the possibility exists that Logan Morrison, who is a free agent, could return to the Rays for the 2018 season, such a possibility is remote based on his '17 numbers. MLB.com columnist Jim Duquette predicted that Morrison will go to the Mets. Of course, nobody thought Morrison would be back with the Rays last year, but after he found a tough free-agent market, Tampa Bay was happy to sign him. And he produced.

Will LoMo return as a Ray this coming season?
-- Robin J., Lakeland, Fla.

While the possibility exists that Logan Morrison, who is a free agent, could return to the Rays for the 2018 season, such a possibility is remote based on his '17 numbers. MLB.com columnist Jim Duquette predicted that Morrison will go to the Mets. Of course, nobody thought Morrison would be back with the Rays last year, but after he found a tough free-agent market, Tampa Bay was happy to sign him. And he produced.

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If the Rays aren't able to keep Morrison, how about Brad Miller at first, Matt Duffy at second, Adeiny Hechavarria at short and Evan Longoria at third?
-- John G., Tampa, Fla.

I think that's possible. But as I said above, we'll have to see what shakes out this offseason. You never know if any of those players are on the shopping list of other teams, or if the Rays are hoping to bring in somebody new to replace one of them.

Hot Stove Tracker

With the market trend for free agents continuously going up, how will the Rays compete?
-- Nicholas B., Fairfield, Fla.

The best way the Rays can remain competitive is to grow their own -- in other words, by building and maintaining a strong farm system. Additionally, they need to be shrewd about signing free agents. Based on the current structure of the game, along with Tampa Bay's revenue streams, operating in this fashion is necessary. However, those revenue streams could change dramatically if a new stadium is built and it is as fruitful as anticipated.

Will the Rays keep Hechavarria at short and make Duffy the everyday second baseman while leaving Miller in a platoon role due to his struggles?
-- Samir F., Tampa, Fla.

I believe Tampa Bay will tender Hechavarria a contract, so it will go to arbitration with him. That would leave the Rays in good shape at one of the toughest positions to have depth, as they would have Hechavarria, Duffy and Willy Adames, their No. 2 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com. Will Duffy be prepared to play second? I think it's possible. Or maybe he'll show he's healthy, and Tampa Bay would trade Hechavarria. As for Miller, I can see him in a platoon role that includes first, second and shortstop -- though Daniel Robertson is also in the equation. There are worse things than having depth.

Is there anybody in the Rays' farm system that you feel could make a difference if they're on the roster in 2018?
-- Jim B., Tampa, Fla.

For starters, I really like Jake Bauers, Tampa Bay's No. 5 prospect, who came to the Rays as part of the Wil Myers trade. I am sold on the 22-year-old first baseman. Not only does Bauers have great power, but he's also got a terrific eye. He comes off as being mature for someone of his age.

Next, Jaime Schultz. The hard-throwing right-hander, the Rays' No. 22 prospect, would have been in Tampa Bay's bullpen in 2017 if he hadn't battled injuries. This guy is a difference maker, and Schultz can get the strikeout when he needs it.

While I've seen Bauers and Schultz play, I have not seen Brent Honeywell. But everything I've heard about the right-hander is glowing. Farm director Mitch Lukevics called the club's top prospect "the most competitive guy" in the organization. That's high praise coming from a longtime baseball man.

I know Kevin Kiermaier missed a lot of time this past season due to injury. Still, I think he was the best at his position again. Do you think he got snubbed for the Gold Glove Award this season?
-- Cathy B., St. Petersburg

I would have to agree with you that Kiermaier is still the best at his position. In fact, like I've said many times, I believe he's the best defender in baseball. But no, Kiermaier did not get snubbed. He simply did not qualify to win the award due to the time he missed.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2004.

Tampa Bay Rays