Five Major Questions for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2016

(Photo: CBSSports / MLB.com screengrab)

(Photo: CBSSports / MLB.com screengrab)

When will Blake Snell Join the Tampa Bay Rays?

We are about six weeks away from when pitchers and catchers report to spring training. But really for Tampa Bay Rays fans that will mark the Blake Snell watch. The hot stove has been ripe with rumors of the next pitching domino to fall for the Rays. Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi, and Alex Cobb have been mentioned in a wide variety of potential trades. There are many different scenarios where each of the potential five starting pitchers for the Rays can be moved if a team is willing to offer the right package. A trade of a starter opens a spot. SO it really is a question of WHEN and not IF Blake Snell, the minor league player of the year, will join the major-league roster.

An early injury to someone on the staff may not mean Snell will join the club. The elephant in the room whenever you are discussing a hot prospect is their service time. The Rays would be smart to delay calling him in order to get an extra year of arbitration. This tactic would eliminate the possibility of him making the club out of spring training. Kris Bryant, 2015 NL Rookie of the Year, had an amazing spring and no one blocking him on the Chicago Cubs roster, but was still held up from joining the team.

Additionally, the Rays’ April schedule has four off days and two the first week of May. This could set up a scenario where a fifth starter may not be needed at the onset, providing more bullpen depth.

Of course this is largely dependent on if Snell performs well in AAA. The expectation is he should, as he posted excellent numbers there in 2015. In nine starts he posted a 1.83 ERA, 11.6 SO/9, and 2.6 BB/9.

Look for Blake Snell to make his major league debut against the Yankees during the 27-29 May homestand.

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