The ones who always find a way
You know what’s frustrating? I expect that we’ll see the Rays make another big trade over the winter that is mostly motivated by saving money. They’ve been doing this sorta thing for years, and nine times out of ten it works out in their favour in the long run, and it rarely impacts their regular season results the following year either. This time around I expect that they’ll likely trade Tyler Glasnow, who has one trip left through arbitration before he’ll be a free agent after the 2023 season.
Most teams would be desperately trying to retain a talent like Glasnow’s, even if he just came off of a major arm injury. He looked very strong when he returned late in the season, and he still has youth on his side at just 29 years old. However, the Rays almost surely won’t pay to retain him after this coming season is over, so they’ll likely try to move him now rather than risk losing him for just a draft pick.
The Rays have operated in this way for many years now, and I don’t expect that to change any time soon. They have shown a more recent willingness to spend money in creative ways, such as their reported interest in Freddie Freeman last winter, for example. However, it’s safe to say that the Rays won’t be leading the charge in free agency, and are more likely to look for bargains a little later in the process. Even without Glasnow they still have a rotation that features talent like Shane McClanahan, Jeffrey Springs, Drew Rasmussen, and others like Yonny Chirinos. They could also look to retain someone like Corey Kluber, or replace him with a similarly priced veteran.
As I look at the Rays’ depth chart, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them return a very similar roster to the one they had in 2022, and hope that they’ll have a lot more luck in the health department this time around. A few complimentary pieces wouldn’t hurt of course, and I’m sure they’ll be waiting to find the next diamond in the rough to join their efforts in Tampa Bay, but otherwise I expect that their biggest move of the winter to be shopping someone like Glasnow, assuming that’s still the plan.
One way or another though, I fully expect the Rays to be right back in the thick of the division race next year. Despite having one of MLB’s lowest payrolls on an annual basis, they always seem to find a way.