The Rays are surely happy to put the 2016 season in the rearview mirror after ending up buried in the AL East basement. President of baseball operations Matt Silverman and manager Kevin Cash addressed the club’s situation heading into the offseason today, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
First and foremost, Silverman stressed that the club is “hellbent” on a return to contention, suggesting that a broad-based sell-off should not be expected. Tampa Bay dealt Matt Moore and Steve Pearce at the trade deadline, but the former was shipped from a position of depth while the latter was on a one-year deal.
Plus, the Moore swap brought in Matt Duffy, who the club hopes will solidify things at shortstop. His presence also allows the organization to utilize Brad Miller at first (or in a broader utility role), which Silverman suggested could be positive in several regards (via Topkin, on Twitter).
Silverman suggested that the club will need to balance its commitment to its core with the need to infuse some new blood. “We have a lot of the guys in house, but we’re going to need to make some changes and we’re going to need to bring in some new players, too,” he said. “The core is intact, the core is talented, and if you listen to the players talk, if you listen to Kevin and the coaches, they will tell you, too. There is still a lot of confidence, there is still a lot of optimism within our clubhouse, and that bodes well for next year.”
The two key organizational figures didn’t cite any major needs, which is a good thing given the team’s resource restraints. Improving the bullpen is one obvious area, and Cash also cited a desire to do a better job running the bases. Then, there’s the catching position, which Silverman acknowledged has been a “sore spot,” as Topkin further tweets.
It’ll certainly be interesting to see whether Silverman and co. can come up with any other creative options over the winter. As I wrote in breaking down three key needs for the club, there’s not only room to improve behind the plate and in the pen, but also perhaps an opportunity to add some offensive firepower. Looking to players like Corey Dickerson and Steven Souza to improve is obviously the key, but that doesn’t mean more can’t be done. What remains to be seen is whether the rotation-rich Rays will be willing to dip into the reservoir of starters once again after dealing Moore at the deadline. It is clear, though, that there’ll be interest from other teams; Silverman says he has already received calls on starting pitching, as Topkin tweets.