The Tampa Bay Rays have question marks everywhere you look with every position and player on the roster as they prepare for Spring Training, which is understandable for a team that’s coming off three straight losing seasons. And, yes, there are even questions about Evan Longoria.
Is this the year that the Rays will trade Evan Longoria?
Evan Longoria has repeatedly said that he likes the Tampa area and playing for the Rays. But if the Rays get off to a bad start, will the team consider trading the face of the franchise? Longoria does not have a no-trade clause in his contract, but he becomes a 10-and-5 player in 2018, so this may become the right time to move him. He’s coming off an excellent season with a few quality years left and a reasonable contract that extends another seven years. The Rays don’t have to get his permission, but they may ask him anyway as a courtesy to a player who has done a lot for the franchise. If the Rays are not contending in July, this question will come up again.
Which Chris Archer will show up this season?
Will it be the Chris Archer who lost 19 games in 2016, or the Chris Archer who had a 3.25 ERA after the All-Star break? He fancies himself the leader of the starting rotation and has the ear of the younger pitchers on the Rays, but will they continue to listen to him if he can’t be a consistent winner? Archer signed a long-term contract, and the Rays don’t want to trade him, but if another team overwhelms them with a deal full of good prospects, Archer could be gone… again. Look back at the Rays’ record in July.
Who will bat leadoff for the Rays?
Now that Logan Forsythe is in Los Angeles, who will take over the leadoff role? Forsythe was good in that spot with OBP of .359 and .333 the last two seasons, but he only had 15 steals in that time and most teams want more speed in the 1-hole. Even though Kevin Kiermaier looked like a natural batting in the 2-hole last season with a .356 OBP, he’s being considered for the leadoff spot where he didn’t bat at all. In fact, the last time he batted leadoff was in 2015 and, in 49 games, his OBP was a weak .284.
There are lots of questions and no answers yet, but the Rays have six weeks to figure these things out.
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