2022-23 MLB Offseason Recap: Tampa Bay Rays

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For the fourth consecutive season, the Tampa Bay Rays made the MLB Playoffs in 2022 after an 86-win season. The Rays have done a solid job building a winning franchise on a budget, but improved teams in the AL East will make the path to a fifth straight playoff birth tough. So, how did Tampa re-shuffle its group after being swept in the Wild Card Round by the Guardians? Let’s take a look.

Related: 2022-23 MLB Offseason Recap: Texas Rangers

Notable Additions

Tampa Bay has never been a high roller in the free agent market, but the Rays did make a significant signing this winter. The Rays inked former Phillies pitcher Zach Eflin to a three-year deal, a $40 million pact that marks the largest contact ever given out by the franchise.

The new Ray has an eclectic arsenal, one that served the ex-Phillie well last season. Eflin pitched to the tune of a 4.04 ERA last season, and struck out 65 over 75.2 IP. The 28-year-old spent a good chunk of last season on the IL, but came back late for the Phillies’ playoff run. Thrust into a relief role, Eflin thrived. Eflin recorded a 3.38 ERA in the MLB Playoffs, and struck out 12 over 10.2 IP.

Over the past five seasons, Eflin recorded weak contact rates above league-average. Tampa will hope for much of the same in 2023.

Notable Subtractions

Tampa entered the offseason facing a crunch on the team’s 40-man roster. That led to a flurry of moves, which included DFA’ing reliever Javy Guerra, and sending JT Chargois and infielder Xavier Edwards to Miami. Long-time outfielder Kevin Kiermaier left in free agency, and is headed to AL East rival Toronto.

The Rays also dealt relievers Brooks Raley (Mets) and J.P. Feyereisen (Dodgers) this winter. Both were solid last season, particularly Feyereisen. The new Dodgers reliever threw 24 scoreless innings in 2022 before a shoulder injury that kept him out for the remainder of the season. Feyereisen is not expected to pitch in 2023.

A Recap

The Rays lost a number of relievers that excelled in Tampa, as well as innings eater Corey Kluber and Ryan Yarbrough. Despite those losses, the Rays’ pitching staff should be just fine entering 2023. The addition of Zach Eflin and the return of Tyler Glasnow, coupled with Shane McClanahan and Drew Rasmussen, make Tampa’s rotation deep and powerful.

Tampa didn’t lose much offensive production in free agency, but this group will need, healthy seasons from Brandon Lowe and Wander Franco will be critical for the Rays’ plans this season. Should those two round into form, the Rays could make it back to the postseason for the fifth straight season.