The Rays cut seven players from their 26-man roster today, as per a team announcement (Twitter link). Outfielder Randy Arozarena, right-hander Trevor Richards, left-hander Anthony Banda, infielders Nate Lowe and Mike Brosseau, first baseman/outfielder Brian O’Grady and two-way player Brendan McKay are were all optioned to Triple-A.
Given how the Rays so often shuttle players from Triple-A and the big leagues, it’s safe to assume all seven of these names will wind up seeing action for the club this season, should the season get underway. Tampa Bay is perhaps better equipped than most teams to handle the challenges posed by a potential shortened schedule and an effort to fit as many games as possible into an abbreviated period of time, as the Rays’ strong farm system gives them a lot of extra depth, and many of their players (especially pitchers) are already used to frequent trips up and down the ladder.
Since Lowe, Ji-Man Choi, and the newly-acquired Yoshitomo Tsutsugo are all left-handed hitters, it made sense that the younger Lowe would be the odd man out of the first base/DH mix. The same is true for O’Grady, acquired in a trade with the Reds back in November.
Arozarena is also a newcomer to Tampa Bay, having been acquired as part of the multi-player trade with the Cardinals in January that brought Jose Martinez to the Rays. Martinez is the right-handed complement to Choi and Tsutsugo (though the Rays have been experimenting with Tsutsugo as a part-time third baseman and outfielder), while Arozarena will provide outfield depth at Triple-A. Arozarena’s chances of making the Opening Day roster were lessened when the Rays picked up Manuel Margot from the Padres, though Arozarena’s ability to play all three outfield positions will very likely make him the first call-up should an injury or need arise in the Rays’ outfield.
The delayed start to the season should give Blake Snell and Tyler Glasnow time to get fully healthy, which meant McKay and Richards were suddenly expendable. Since the Rays still plan to occasionally spell their starters by using openers, Richards will probably get action either in a traditional starting role or as a bulk pitcher behind an opener — he served in both capacities after being acquired by the Marlins at last year’s trade deadline. In fact, it could be easy to see a scenario where Richards and “Two Way McKay” are combined together in a piggyback outing, with the intriguing McKay (one of the game’s top prospects) also serving as an X-factor at the plate.