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Offseason-In-Review: Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa trades away top players, begins rebuilding effort

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at New York Yankees Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay Rays (80-82)

Additions: OF Carlos Gomez, OF Denard Span, RP Sergio Romo, RP Daniel Hudson, 1B C.J. Cron, 2B Nick Solak, SS Jermaine Palacios, IF Christian Arroyo, SP/RP Anthony Banda, IF Tristan Gray, SP Stephen Woods, SP Matt Krook, RP Curtis Taylor, RP Dustin McGowan, RP Evan Scribner (minor-league deal), RP Jonny Venters (minor-league deal)

Subtractions: SP Alex Cobb, SP Jake Odorizzi, 3B Evan Longoria, 1B Logan Morrison, 1B Lucas Duda, RP Tommy Hunter, RP Steve Cishek, RP Brad Boxberger, RP Xavier Cedeno, OF Steven Souza, OF Corey Dickerson, OF Colby Rasmus, OF Peter Bourjos, C Curt Casali, 2B Danny Espinosa, 3B Trevor Plouffe, 3B Ryan Schimpf, IF Deion Tansel

Florida was the hotbed for moves this offseason.

While the Marlins were busy selling off their big stars in South Beach, their American League counterpart to the northwest in St. Petersburg, the Rays, made a ton of moves as well. The Rays made 11 trades, including five in a row, granted free agency to 10 players and

The Rays’ biggest move of the offseason was dealing franchise icon Evan Longoria to the Giants for Christian Arroyo, Denard Span, Stephen Woods and Matt Krook in December. By dealing away Longoria, a first-round pick in 2006 and fixture for Tampa Bay over the last 10 seasons, it signaled that the Rays were serious about a rebuild after they finished fourth place in the AL East last season. That rebuild will more than likely feature Arroyo one day, as he is the major piece from this trade. Arroyo was the 25th-overall pick in the 2013 draft and is currently ranked by MLBPipeline.com as the fifth-best third base prospect in all of baseball. Arroyo made his MLB debut last year with the Giants, but struggled in 34 games before missing the second half of the year with a broken hand. Despite the recent adversities, Arroyo is one of six prospects in the Rays’ farm system ranked in the top 100, along with Brent Honeywell, Willy Adames, two-way player Brendan McKay, Jesus Sanchez and Jake Bauers. They appear to be the core players that will help Tampa in the near future.

Then from Feb. 17-March 5, the Rays made five trades, four of which occurred in a matter of three days.

On Feb. 17, the Rays acquired C.J. Cron from the Angels and traded away Jake Odorizzi to the Twins. The Odorizzi deal brought 21-year-old infielder Jermaine Palacios to Tampa, which made it questionable to many because Odorizzi is an above-average starter who is under club control through 2019 and is only set to make $6.3 million this year. As for the Cron deal, they will send a player to be named later, but they are hoping Cron can overcome his struggles to be an effective player at first base after they let Logan Morrison and Lucas Dada walk.

On Feb. 20, the Rays were part of a three-way deal with the Yankees and the Diamondbacks in which they acquired Yankees prospect Nick Solak, D-backs prospect Anthony Banda and two players to be named later from Arizona while they sent outfielder Steven Souza to the D-backs. Also, the Rays dealt Corey Dickerson to the the Pirates for prospects Daniel Hudson, Tristan Gray and cash.

The prospects they received in the three-way deal, Solar and Banda, rank inside the top 20 in the Rays’ farm system, and the organization hopes they can be part of the rebuild sooner later than later.

Outside of the trades, the Rays signed outfielder Carlos Gomez and brought back reliever Sergio Romo to help fill those needs. However, they parted ways with one of the game’s top young starters Alex Cobb, who turned their $17.4 million qualifying off to go test free agency. Cobb finally signed with a club, as he agreed to a four-year, $57 million deal with the Orioles on Tuesday. In addition, they granted free agency to Morrison, Duda, Tommy Hunter and Steve Cishek, Colby Rasmus, Trevor Plouffe and Peter Bourjos.

As far as the remaining free agents, the Rays don’t appear to be in the mix for anyone with just eight days remaining until Opening Day. The hope is that their four-man rotation of Chris Archer, Blake Snell, Jacob Faria and Nathan Eovaldi plus closer Alex Colome can carry the team and their veterans Gomez, Span, Kevin Kiermaier, Matt Duffy, Wilson Ramos and Brad Miller can do enough for them to compete in the rugged AL East until they can transition the new core of players over the next few years. If the season goes worse than expected, the Rays could look into trying to get as much as they can for Archer, Colome or any other player they feel will bring a great return to the organization.