--RHP Michael Kohn signed a one-year contract with the Rays on Oct. 16. Financial terms of the deal were not announced. Kohn pitched in 25 games for the Angels this season and had a 2-1 record with 20 walks and 26 strikeouts and a 3.04 ERA in 23 2/3 innings. The 28-year-old, who was on the Angels' Opening Day roster, became a free agent in September after he was outrighted from Los Angeles' 40-man roster. After undergoing Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery and missing the 2012 season, Kohn returned in 2013 to pitch in 63 games and post a 1-4 record with a 3.74 ERA.
--INF/OF Ben Zobrist put together the Rays' most complete performance in 2014, batting .272/.354/.395 with playing strong defense at second base, shortstop and all three outfield positions. He was also at his best when the Rays were at their hottest, batting .315/.403/.477 when the Rays went 37-19 from June 11-Aug. 15. According to the website FanGraphs.com, Zobrist led the team with 5.6 WAR (Wins Above Replacement), making him more than 1 1/2 wins more valuable than their second-best player, outfielder Kevin Kiermaier. The Rays hold a $7.5 million club option on Zobrist, and it seems certain they will pick up that option. What remains to be seen is whether they will consider trading Zobrist, in the final year of his contract, to cut down on payroll. Given his versatility and value to the Rays, the most likely outcome is that Zobrist will play out his contract with Tampa Bay.
--RHP Alex Cobb emerged as the Rays' ace in the wake of the deal that sent David Price to Detroit at the trade deadline, finishing the year with a 10-9 record and a 2.87 ERA that ranked sixth in the American League. Cobb pitched 166 1/3 innings over 27 starts after missing time early on due to injury. Cobb struck out 149 batters on the year and held opposing hitters to a .231 average. Don't be surprised to see Cobb on the mound come opening day in 2015. In the meantime, one question to consider over the offseason: Could Cobb be next in line for the kind of long-term, team-friendly contract extension given to rotation-mates Matt Moore and Chris Archer?
--RHP Jeremy Hellickson could be a popular name in trade rumors this offseason. Heading into his second year of arbitration eligibility, the 27-year-old right-hander could be the odd man out of the Rays' rotation. Alex Cobb, Chris Archer, Drew Smyly and Jake Odorizzi are all sure bets for Tampa Bay after solid seasons in 2014. Matt Moore will be back at some point after recovering from Tommy John surgery. The Rays have young right-handers Alex Colome and Nathan Karns, who would make the major league minimum and fill Moore's spot until he's healthy. Hellickson, meanwhile, struggled to a 1-5 record and 4.52 ERA in 63 2/3 innings over 13 starts this season. It was his second straight down year after going 27-21 with a 3.06 ERA from 2010-12, with an American League Rookie of the Year Award in 2011. Hellickson made $3.625 million in 2014, a figure that will only go up in 2015 and makes him a potential trade candidate as the Rays look to cut down their payroll.
--OF Matt Joyce would seem to be the most likely Rays outfielder to be traded this offseason, as he's set to make more than $4 million in salary and is entering his final year under team control. Joyce, a native of Tampa who's always loved playing for his hometown team, hit .254 with a .349 on-base percentage in 493 plate appearances but slugged only nine home runs, his fewest since 2009. Joyce has mostly been limited to a platoon role in his time with the Rays, as they don't generally use him against left-handed pitching, and he's in line for another raise via the arbitration process after making $3.7 million in 2014. With Kevin Kiermaier, Desmond Jennings, Brandon Guyer and Wil Myers all available as younger, cheaper options and utility man Ben Zobrist able to man both outfield corners, Joyce realizes he may have played his last game with the Rays. "Obviously I'd like to be here. I have another year on the contract, and this is my home," Joyce said. "I've had a ton of fun and some amazing memories. For right now, I'm still a Tampa Bay Ray. I have every intention of working my butt off and getting ready to stay a Tampa Bay Ray and come back and have a successful season next year."
--OF Wil Myers followed up his American League Rookie of the Year season in 2013 with a disappointing 2014 campaign, batting .222/.294/.320 with only six home runs and 35 RBIs in 87 games. Myers was also held back by wrist injuries, a right wrist fracture that sidelined him for nearly half the season and a nagging left wrist injury that may have led to some of his offensive struggles early on in the season. Myers said he would spend the offseason getting fully healthy and working harder to prepare for the 2015 season. "It was definitely tough, but I definitely learned from it," Myers said.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "None of us like the fact we are not winning the division. It's the goal. It's going to be the goal every year. We feel like we can do it. We thought we could do it this year. And in spite of all of this, again, just a really bad, awkward moment. ... We get into this 1-14 stretch, and all of a sudden, it's really difficult. But I give our guys a lot of credit. They continued to play hard." -- Rays manager Joe Maddon.
MLB Team Report - Tampa Bay Rays - ROSTER REPORT
While the 2014 season was a disappointment for the Tampa Bay Rays, it appears they will bring back most of their roster in 2015. While they likely will trade away a few players to cut down on payroll, resolve position logjams and bolster their minor league system, expect to see a lot of familiar faces next year in Tampa Bay. They have no free agents this offseason, and it's unlikely they will make a major splash in the free agent market. They dealt starter David Price to the Detroit Tigers in July, answering what had been their biggest potential question heading into this offseason. They could trade players like Ben Zobrist, Matt Joyce, Jeremy Hellickson and Sean Rodriguez, but odds are the Rays are going to try their luck with the majority of the players who came up short this year.
BIGGEST NEEDS: More than anything, the Rays need the players they're bringing back to stay healthy and perform up to their ability in 2015. If Evan Longoria and Wil Myers are a reliable run-production duo in the middle of their lineup, their offense all of a sudden looks a lot more potent. If Alex Cobb, Chris Archer, Drew Smyly and Jake Odorizzi pitch like they did for most of this season, their rotation stacks up against any other in baseball. If Jake McGee and Brad Boxberger pick up where they left off, and if Grant Balfour gets back on track, the back end of their bullpen will be taken care of.
NEWCOMER: RHP Michael Kohn (free agent from Angels)
FREE AGENTS: None
The Rays will enter the offseason with no pending free agents, though they have club options on RHP Joel Peralta and INF/OF Ben Zobrist. It seems likely that they will pick up the $7.5 million option on Zobrist, while Peralta could become a free agent. The veteran reliever hopes to remain in Tampa Bay. "I want to be here, but I don't know what's going to happen," Peralta said.
ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLE: OF Matt Joyce, RHP Jeremy Hellickson, INF Sean Rodriguez, LHP Jake McGee, LHP Cesar Ramos, LHP Drew Smyly, OF Desmond Jennings, RHP Alex Cobb, 2B Logan Forsythe, RHP Brandon Gomes
Joyce seems unlikely to return given his escalating salary and part-time role. Rodriguez also doesn't seem like a fit, nor does Ramos. Hellickson might be one of the Rays' most interesting decisions this offseason, as his salary is on the rise and Tampa Bay could have a surplus of starters in its rotation. McGee, Smyly, Jennings and Cobb could be in line for big raises, with Cobb seemingly a candidate for a long-term extension.
IN LIMBO: RHP Jeremy Hellickson, OF Matt Joyce, INF Sean Rodriguez, RHP Joel Peralta, INF/OF Ben Zobrist, LHP Cesar Ramos
Zobrist and Peralta have team options for next season, and Zobrist -- with a $7.5 million salary, if the Rays pick up his option -- could find himself on the trade market. It's more likely the Rays hang on to their super-utility man, however. Peralta's option is for $2.5 million, which makes him a more interesting decision as the Rays have a number of young bullpen arms at their disposal. Ramos is all but guaranteed to be traded or non-tendered. Rodriguez could find himself in a similar situation, though his fate remains less clear. Hellickson's inconsistent performance and rising salary will force the Rays to make a tough decision, as it's always hard to part with pitching depth. But they're committed to cutting payroll somehow, and Hellickson's salary would be an obvious place to start. The same can be said for Joyce, who seems like an obvious trade candidate if the Rays can find an interested team.
--LHP Matt Moore (Tommy John surgery in April 2014) was playing catch from 60 feet in September. Moore said the plan is for him to throw off a mound at some point this winter, possibly as early as mid-December. He hopes to be back in the Rays' rotation before the 2015 All-Star break, with a return in June seemingly the most likely outcome.
--OF Desmond Jennings (bruised left knee) missed the final month of the season. The injury isn't believed to be serious, and Jennings is expected to be ready for spring training.