Tampa Bay Rays: 77.5 wins
- Baseball Prospectus: 83 wins
- FanGraphs: 78 wins
Unlike the Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays in the AL East, the Rays seem to have accepted the fact that it will be difficult to keep pace with the Yankees and Red Sox right now. Evan Longoria, the only hitter to ever develop into a true star with the Rays, was dealt to the San Francisco Giants, while veteran starter Jake Odorizzi was moved to the Twins. Outfielder Steven Souza was also on the move, going to the Diamondbacks for prospects.
After losing prospect Brent Honeywell to Tommy John, the Rays have made the interesting decision to go with a four-man rotation and a staff game every fifth day. If it works, the team will look innovative. If it flops…it will be an all-time flop.
The Rays will finally get a look at young lefty Blake Snell for a full season. Jake Faria will join him behind staff ace Chris Archer. Snell and Faria have impressed at times, but the Rays will be smart in managing their innings. Trading Archer this summer is the smart move, but taking him out of an already thin rotation puts even more pressure on the young arms. A more likely trade chip to move will be closer Alex Colome.
Conclusion: The Rays get off to a slow start and decide to pull the trigger on an even deeper rebuild come July. Tampa Bay fails to win 75 games, but begins setting up for a better future in the tough AL East.