2014 Outlook: Tampa Bay Rays

2014 Outlook: Tampa Bay Rays
February 3, 2014, 5:00 pm
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2013 record: 87-76, 2nd place in AL East
Manager: Joe Maddon, 9th season
Estimated 2014 payroll: $72.2 million
Key additions: RP Grant Balfour, RP Heath Bell, C Ryan Hanigan
Key losses: RP Fernando Rodney, OF Sam Fuld, RP Alex Torres

Projected lineup
LF David DeJesus
2B Ben Zobrist
3B Evan Longoria
RF Wil Myers
DH Matt Joyce
1B James Loney
CF Desmond Jennings
SS Yunel Escobar
C Ryan Hanigan

Projected rotation
LHP David Price
RHP Alex Cobb
LHP Matt Moore
RHP Chris Archer
RHP Jake Odorizzi

Top relievers
CL Grant Balfour
RHP Joel Peralta
LHP Jake McGee

Biggest questions entering 2014
1. What does Wil Myers have in store? The reigning rookie of the year, Wil Myers enters his second season with a chance to become a breakout star. In 88 games in 2013 he hit .293 with 13 home runs and 53 RBI. He also scored 50 runs and held a .831 OPS. Those numbers are impressive, but his minor league numbers suggest he could be much better. In 2012 he hit .314 with 37 homers and 109 RBI in 134 games in the minors. Myers could emerge as one of the game's best young sluggers in 2014.

[RELATED: Nats pitchers glad to have Steve McCatty back]

2. How will Jake Odorizzi perform in Tampa's rotation? The Rays have had no problem bringing along young pitchers in recent years and Odorizzi is next in line. A former first round pick of the Brewers, Odorizzi came over in the same trade that brought Myers to Tampa. Now the 23-year-old right-hander will be a key cog in the Rays' rotation with only six MLB starts to his name. Last year he was solid with a 3.94 ERA in 29 2/3 innings, but his role will increase dramatically. We'll see how he does. 

3. Can they keep up with the Yankees and Red Sox? This is a question you could ask every year regarding the Rays, and every year they seem to hang around until the very end. This next season, however, could see two very powerful teams gunning for first in the AL East. The Red Sox will be back after winning the World Series and the Yankees loaded up this offseason. Everyone expects Boston to have a good year and the Yankees added a significant amount of talent to a team that already won 85 games. The Rays didn't lose much this winter and their bullpen looks improved. Will they contend for the division title? They've surprised us before.