The Tampa Bay Rays 2022 season was one plagued by injuries. Despite injuries to several key players, the Rays finished with a 86-76 record and earned themselves a wild card spot in the playoffs. Their time in the 2022 playoffs was short-lived, getting swept by the Cleveland Guardians in the American League Wild Card series, scoring just one run over 24 innings. The Rays now look ahead to the 2023 season, where they will navigate through the always tough AL East.
The Rays did not make many flashy moves this offseason, but there were a few notable additions and departures. The first being the signing of Zach Eflin, a right-handed pitcher formally of the Philadelphia Phillies. The 28-year-old signed a three-year, $40 million contract this December, the largest contract in franchise history. Eflin will join Tyler Glasnow, Shane McClanahan and Drew Rasmussen in the Rays starting rotation.
The Rays said goodbye to fan-favorite and defensive superstar Kevin Kiermaier over the offseason. The centerfielder had been with the Rays since 2013 and won three gold glove awards with the team. Rays fans will see plenty of Kiermaier this season, as he signed with division rival Toronto Blue Jays.
Warming up the Bats
For the Rays to be a serious contender this season, they must perform better offensively than they did in 2022. Nobody knows this better than Dewayne Staats, play-by-play voice of the Rays since the inception of the team in 1998. Speaking on Sport Scene about the Rays hitting performance last year, Staats said “that offense was a major problem.”
Staats expects to see a much better offensive squad this year. Not because of different personnel, but because of the new rules being implemented this year. This includes the ban on shifts, the pitch clock and the pick-off rule.
“I think the offense is actually going to be much better than it was last year and I think it is going to be more fun to watch,” he said.
Players to Watch
Staats said he would love to see a healthy Wander Franco this year, knowing how important the shortstop is for the team.
Another player to keep an eye on this year is second baseman Brandon Lowe. Lowe played 65 games last season, but when healthy, the infielder provides the Rays with a powerful lefty bat.
Third baseman Isaac Paredes will be a young player to watch develop over the season.
Perhaps the most interesting Tampa Bay player to watch this season, according to Staats, is outfielder Luke Raley. Raley has made some changes to his swing this spring, and Staats is a fan of them.