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Rays unveil 40-man player pool for playoffs

@juanctoribio
September 21, 2020

With just a week left in the regular season, the Rays still have a lot of things they are trying to accomplish. The club is looking to win its first American League East title since 2010, lock up home-field advantage and set itself up as the possible No. 1 seed

With just a week left in the regular season, the Rays still have a lot of things they are trying to accomplish. The club is looking to win its first American League East title since 2010, lock up home-field advantage and set itself up as the possible No. 1 seed in the AL heading into the postseason.

While all those things will get sorted out over the next couple of games, one thing the Rays do know is exactly who they’ll be able to count on during the postseason run. On Monday, the Rays announced their 40-man postseason-eligible player pool.

The Rays will only have 28 active players during the postseason, but these 40 players are the ones who will be eligible for the active roster and can travel to the postseason bubble if Tampa Bay wins its Wild Card Series matchup.

How they got there: Rays roll into postseason

Let’s take a position-by-position look at who made the Rays’ player pool, which includes top overall prospect Wander Franco and some other highly regarded prospects.

Catchers (4): Mike Zunino, Michael Perez, Kevan Smith, Ronaldo Hernández

No surprises here. Zunino, Perez and Smith are all on the active roster and have all contributed to the big league team this season. As for Hernández, the organization’s top catching prospect has been at the alternate training site this season, but he has gotten valuable experience in his time as the extra catcher on the taxi squad.

If the postseason started today, Zunino and Perez would likely be the two catchers on the roster. Smith could be a possibility as a third catcher, but it would likely depend on the Wild Card Series matchup.

Infielders (9): Willy Adames, Mike Brosseau, Vidal Bruján, Ji-Man Choi, Yandy Díaz, Wander Franco, Brandon Lowe, Nate Lowe, Joey Wendle

Adames, Brosseau, Brandon, Nate and Wendle are all on the active roster, and the Rays hope Choi and Díaz, who are both on the IL with hamstring strains, are back at some point over the next week or 10 days. Both of them took batting practice on Sunday and Monday and could be slated for live batting practice if they feel healthy on Tuesday.

The two infielders on the roster who don’t have Major League experience are Franco and Bruján. Franco is the consensus top prospect in the Minor Leagues and has been with the team at the alternate training site all season. Bruján, the organization’s No. 3 prospect, has also been in Port Charlotte and was part of the team’s taxi squad on its two-game trip to Washington earlier this month.

Adding Franco and Bruján to the 40-man player pool doesn’t mean that either of them will make their Major League debuts in the postseason, but it does give the Rays the option. If they don’t get activated as expected, adding Franco and Bruján still gives the highly regarded prospects an opportunity to be around the team that they will undoubtedly be a part of in 2021.

Outfielders (8): Randy Arozarena, Kevin Kiermaier, Manuel Margot, Austin Meadows, Brian O’Grady, Brett Phillips, Hunter Renfroe, Yoshi Tsutsugo

No surprises here, either. Meadows being on the roster is the most notable addition, but this gives the outfielder a chance to be activated later in the postseason if he’s able to recover from a Grade 2 left oblique strain.

Pitchers (19): José Alvarado, Nick Anderson, Diego Castillo, John Curtiss, Oliver Drake, Pete Fairbanks, Josh Fleming, Sean Gilmartin, Tyler Glasnow, Brent Honeywell Jr., Aaron Loup, Shane McClanahan, Charlie Morton, Trevor Richards, Ryan Sherriff, Aaron Slegers, Blake Snell, Ryan Thompson, Ryan Yarbrough

In order for the Rays to make a deep run in October, they’ll need this group to lead the way. Snell, Glasnow and Morton will lead the rotation, while Anderson and Castillo will give the Rays two lockdown relievers in the late innings. Alvarado, who is on the IL with left shoulder inflammation, threw a 26-pitch bullpen session on Monday and could also be an option at some point during the postseason.

There aren’t many surprises out of this group, though the additions of Honeywell and McClanahan are interesting. Neither of them have pitched in the Majors, but they are seen as possible big league-ready arms, if called upon. Like Franco, Bruján and Hernández, the two pitchers will also benefit by being around the team.

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