Last year, Evan Longoria had a great season with a .273 average, 98 RBIs, and a career high 36 home runs. That was about the only great thing about 2016 for the Tampa Bay Rays. The team finished in the basement of the American League East with a record of 68-94, the club’s worst mark since 2007. None of their starting outfielders hit above .250, the entire team batted .243, and the ace of the staff, Chris Archer, was a 19-game loser.
But Longoria believes the Rays made a lot of good moves in the off season, giving them a shot at contending in a very tough AL East.
“I think we’ve bettered ourselves a little bit,” the All-Star third baseman told the Associated Press. “I think we’ve positioned ourselves to be right there.”
One of the biggest acquisitions Tampa Bay made was catcher Wilson Ramos, who hit .307 with 22 home runs and 80 RBIs for Washington last year. Another key pick up looks to be outfielder Mallex Smith, who played 72 games for Atlanta last year, and has 229 career stolen bases in the minors. Your text to link…
The Rays also sought to improve their pitching staff by getting Jose De Leon from the Dodgers. The right hander had a 7-1 record with AAA Oklahoma City, and a 2-0 record when called up to the Dodgers. Tampa Bay also added two veteran relievers to its bullpen with Shawn Tolleson (46 saves the last two seasons for Texas) and Tommy Hunter (2-2, 3.18 ERA with Cleveland and Baltimore last year).
Tampa Bay opens the season April 2nd at home versus the New York Yankees. In fact, April will be a good test for the retooled Rays as they face all their AL East foes that month; Yankees April 2-5 and 10-13, Blue Jays April 6-9 and 28-30, Red Sox April 14-17, and Orioles April 24-26.