2024 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers & Busts: Tampa Bay Rays

The Tampa Bay Rays players you should and should not draft in 2024.

As has been the case in years past, the Tampa Bay Rays have been extremely active this offseason, seeing a significant number of departures from last season’s team.

Robert Stephenson and Jake Diekman became free agents, while Jalen Beeks, Christian Bethancourt, and Josh Fleming were all selected by other teams on waivers.

In the trade department, Tyler Glasnow, Manuel Margot, Luke Raley Jr., and Andrew Kittredge were all traded to new clubs ahead of the 2024 season, with Glasnow’s departure in particular looming large.

That’s, of course, nothing to scoff at. Tampa Bay won 99 games in 2023. Still, with the amount of talent returning from last year’s roster and an additional influx of quality players from the aforementioned deals, the Rays should have no trouble staying competitive this coming season.

The same general thinking applies to the overall fantasy prospects of the Rays’ collective roster as well. In other words, there are plenty of fantasy options worth considering in drafts this spring.

Like with many teams, there are a handful of players to potentially avoid, especially at their ADPs or based on past performances, but there’s plenty of fantasy upside on Tampa Bay’s roster.



Aaron Civale


2023 Stats (122.1 IP): 3.46 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 116 K, 7 W

The Rays may have traded one frontline starting pitcher in Glasnow, but they may already have another set to take his place in Aaron Civale.

Acquired at last season’s trade deadline, Civale turned in a quality season split between Cleveland and Tampa Bay, pitching to a 3.46 ERA and a 3.57 FIP in 122.1 innings, adding 116 strikeouts while limiting opposing batters to 33 walks and 12 home runs. It’s the type of campaign that’s decidedly more valuable from a real-life baseball standpoint (where Civale logged a 2.5 fWAR) than a fantasy standpoint, where the hurler was merely more of a solid rotation option just above streaming options.

That was mainly due to lower strikeout numbers in his season-long metrics, but if the stretch run in Tampa Bay is any indication, Civale could not only see a significant bump in strikeouts next season but he could also be set to follow teammate Zach Eflin from going from merely a useful, solid fantasy starter to a frontline fantasy option.

Aaron Civale In 2023

Already adept at limiting walks – Civale has ranked in the 67th percentile or better in walk rate in each of the last five seasons – the veteran’s walks per nine innings rate dwindled even more so in Tampa Bay.

But, as mentioned, the real star of the show was the considerable uptick in strikeouts.

There wasn’t a seismic change in Civale’s pitch mix following the trade that helped induce more swings and misses, though he did start to utilize his sinker more often than his four-seamer. The most intriguing development of all might be the bat-missing improvements of Civale’s curveball.

Aaron Civale Pitch Usage Rate By Month

Already one of Civale’s most used pitches, it finished with the second-highest usage rate behind his cutter last season, the starter’s curveball was already generally reliable with a run value of +3 or better in each of the last three seasons. It also finished with a strikeout rate of 50.9% in 2022.

However, the pitch took off down the stretch, posting a 60% strikeout rate in September after topping the 30% mark just once (when it was 33.3% in June) in all previous months last season.

Of course, we’re dealing with an extremely small sample here, five August starts to be exact, but the spike in strikeout rate by the curveball also came at a time when Civale struck out 33 batters in 20 September innings, a stretch that included two starts with at least eight strikeouts. Dating back to 2020, Civale has logged just 10 other starts with at least eight strikeouts.

Furthermore, if you extrapolate the strikeout rate from the former Cleveland starter’s curveball in September and compare it to strikeout rates from curveballs from the entirety of the 2023 season, it would rank fifth. Pair that group down to full-time starters, and it would come in third behind only Blake Snell and Glasnow.

If you’re looking for 2024’s Eflin, it might just be Civale.


Brandon Lowe


2023 Stats: (436 PA): .231 AVG, 58 runs scored, 21 HR, 68 RBI, 7 SB

Brandon Lowe enjoyed a strong bounce-back season in 2023, though most of his surface-level metrics might not exactly suggest it.

The veteran hit .231 with a .328 on-base percentage, collecting 21 home runs in 436 plate appearances for the American League East club. Lowe’s seven stolen bases, which tied a career-high, was certainly a positive fantasy-wise and could prove to be a significant development if he can reach double digits in 2024.

However, the biggest development was in what Lowe did at the plate when making contact.

The 29-year-old finished with a .341 xwOBA while logging a double-digit barrel rate (10.7%) for the sixth year running. He also registered a personal best 47.5% hard-hit rate, to go along with a .420 xwOBAcon.

What’s more, Lowe got back to crushing four-seam fastballs, something that has both been a key to his major league success, as well as something he wasn’t quite able to do during the 2022 campaign.

Brandon Lowe Against Four-Seam Fastballs

Breakout seasons from the likes of Zack Gelof, Matt McLain, Nico Hoerner, Bryson Stott, Nolan Gorman, and Edouard Julien have the second base position deeper than it has been in years from a fantasy standpoint.

Still, there’s plenty of merit in waiting for someone like Lowe later in drafts and using early-round picks on other positions. Per NFBC data, Lowe is currently sporting a 271.26 ADP and is being drafted as the 23rd-second baseman off the board. While he struggled at the plate in 2022 and had somewhat of a down year by surface level metrics in 2023, the second baseman still finished with an xwOBA north of .340 for the fourth time in five years.

He’s going to continue to make quality contact and continue to be an integral player in the Rays’ lineup.



José Caballero


2023 Stats: (280 PA): .221 AVG, 37 runs scored, 4 HR, 26 RBI, 26 SB

The only player acquired in return from Luke Raley Jr. from the Seattle Mariners in a trade earlier this month, Caballero figures to immediately slot into the Rays’ infield mix, with experience at all three infield positions not named first base last season.

The 26-year-old does a few things well that should help his fantasy upside – in addition to the versatility – in that he steals bases and draws walks.

Last season, the rookie stole 26 bases in just 104 games and 280 plate appearances. He also tacked on a 10.0% walk rate in that span, helping him finish with a .343 on-base percentage.

That combination, when paired with a quality Tampa Bays Rays’ lineup, should lead to some solid run-scoring numbers if everyday plate appearances – or something approaching them – are available.

However next season, if he continues to log similar quality of contact numbers to those he posted as a rookie, there’s unlikely to be much in the way of power production.

Caballero registered just a .305 wOBA and an even lower .299 xwOBA while adding a .308 xwOBAcon, a 23.7% hard-hit rate, and a 3.6% barrel rate. Looking at qualified hitters last year, only 13 had a lower xwOBA than Caballero.

Furthermore, if the xwOBA continues to be low, it’s not out of the question that it could possibly tank the batting average to the point where the infielder’s high walk rate isn’t leading to a quality on-base percentage.

Of the 13 qualified hitters last year to log a lower xwOBA than Caballero, only three had an on-base percentage over the .316 mark and seven had an on-base percentage of .301 or lower.


Isaac Paredes


2023 Stats: (571 PA): .250 AVG, 71 runs scored, 31 HR, 98 RBI, 1 SB

Speaking of players with lower-quality of contact metrics and high walk rates, we now move to Isaac Paredes, who enjoyed his best major league season to date despite some lower expected metrics.

The infielder hit .250 with a .352 on-base percentage, a 10.2% walk rate, 31 home runs, and a stolen base in 571 plate appearances while adding a 5.9% barrel rate, a .315 xwOBA, a .322 xwOBAcon, and a 28.5% hard-hit rate.

The significant number of plate appearances no doubt helped boost some of the production, and so too did an ability to make contact at a high rate, with identical 18.2% whiff and strikeout rates. But all told, there was some serious unsustainability to Paredes’ surface-level production.

This is all not to say that Paredes will struggle in 2024. He’ll likely still get a similar number of plate appearances, and should continue to benefit from playing at Tropicana Field, where his 31 expected home runs home runs at the park were tied for the most of any stadium in the league. Notably, Paredes’ expected home run total would’ve been markedly lower elsewhere, including just nine in Baltimore, 16 in Pittsburgh, and 18 in three other ballparks.

Still, it’s probably best to expect more good production from the Rays infielder than the great numbers he supplied this past season if he continues to make contact in a similar manner next season.


Photos by Julian Avram, Nick Wosika | Icon Sportswire
Adapted by Kurt Wasemiller (@KUWasemiller on Twitter / @kurt_player02 on Instagram)

Ben Rosener

Ben Rosener is baseball and fantasy baseball writer whose work has previously appeared on the digital pages of Motor City Bengals, Bleacher Report, USA Today, FanSided.com and World Soccer Talk among others. He also writes about fantasy baseball for RotoBaller and the Detroit Tigers for his own Patreon page, Getting You Through the Tigers Rebuild (@Tigers_Rebuild on Twitter). He only refers to himself in the third person for bios.

2 responses to “2024 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers & Busts: Tampa Bay Rays”

  1. Mario Mendoza says:

    Good article! Curious about B Lowe being better vs fastballs in 2023 though…it looks like the xWOBA and xSLG are still down compared to years prior. Am I reading that wrong?

  2. Babbo B says:

    Odd thing with Civale is that his strikeout rate soared from 19% in Cleveland to 29% in Tampa Bay, while his swinging strike rate showed a much smaller increase (9.5 to 11). Kind of makes you wonder where all those strikeouts were coming from (his called strike rate actually dipped slightly) and how sustainable that really is.

    As for Paredes, worth pointing out that his Pitcher List xWOBA of .366 is almost identical to his actual number. Big difference is that the .315 Statcast xWOBA you cite isn’t directional while Pitcher List’s is (as has often been touted on this site), a huge factor for an extreme pull hitter like him.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Account / Login