Update:The Rays have officially announced the additions suggested below. The 40-man roster currently sits at 39 players.
Nov. 20:The Rays will make a number of roster moves on Tuesday, as will other teams across the league. Once midnight hits, teams will no longer be able to add Rule 5-eligible players to the 40-man roster. At the moment, the Rays appear likely to protect four players not presently on the 40-man roster: shortstop Hak-Ju Lee, second baseman Tim Beckham, and left-handed pitchers Enny Romero and Felipe Rivero. The Rays added southpaw reliever Frank De Los Santos to the 40-man earlier in the month, thereby preventing him from becoming a free agent while also protecting him from the Rule 5 draft.
Let’s take a closer look at the probable adds.
Lee, acquired in the Matt Garza trade, is a plus defensive shortstop with the arm and actions to lock down the position. The 22-year-old’s offensive future is less certain. He has the swing and body of a slap hitter, with plus speed allowing him to turn singles into doubles and doubles into triples. That speed should help Lee become a credible stolen-base threat as well. Lee’s slender frame does not suggest there is power projection remaining, yet the Rays want him to work on his strength this offseason. Don’t be fooled by the seasonal line: Lee’s numbers took off once the Rays corrected a mechanical flaw before a strained oblique ended his season. Without many secondary skills, Lee’s ability to hit for average will determine his offensive value. Look for him to debut in 2013.
Although it feels as if Beckham has been around forever, he remains relatively young—just 14 months older than Richie Shaffer, the Rays’ top pick in June’s draft. For the first time in his career, Beckham took reps at a position other than shortstop this season by dabbling at second base. There is not an obvious fit for Beckham’s skill set elsewhere on the diamond, so playing him at the keystone and wasting his plus arm is making the best of the situation. Beckham’s bat is still quick, leading some to believe he may hit for average power (15-to-22 home runs) down the road, while cleaned mechanics should help him with contact. There is concern about his plate approach and the unsettled defensive future puts more weight on his bat. Nevertheless, Beckham should reach the majors in 2013.
That Romero and Rivero are southpaws with similar surnames will leave them tied together heading forward. They do share additional attributes—both have lightning-quick arms and good velocity for southpaws—but Romero has the better body. Romero needs to sharpen his secondary offerings—his curve is ahead of his changeup—and learn to repeat his mechanics. If he does both, he could become a monster. Rivero is smaller, however, he shows better command and usability of his pitches than Romero. Both are years away from contributing.