Matt Silverman did not simply wake up one morning after sliding into his new role as president of Rays baseball operations and decide to ship out nearly half the team he inherited. • It only looked that way. • The massive offseason makeover that Silverman has orchestrated — making seven trades that sent nine key players packing and cutting a 10th — is the product of a process to restock a sagging farm system, reduce what had been a franchise-high payroll (though only by about $10 million, to around $70 million) and increase the flexibility of the roster, all while hanging on to enough talent to return the team to contention. • "It's a little bit of a threading of the needle," Silverman said. "We're working within our constraints to field a team that we believe can compete, while at the same time keeping an eye on the needed talent in our system to maintain confidence in our long-term competitiveness." • The plan — yes, despite what some critics suggest, they do have one — was employed, and perhaps accelerated, after Silverman replaced Andrew Friedman in mid October, then saw manager Joe Maddon leave.
Stephen Souza is the Rays prospect to watch this Spring Training. Via trades, the Rays acquired the OF from the Nationals, and a few others that are on this reconfigured list. 2014 2nd round pick Brent Honeywell ranks 10th. Mikie Mahtook ranked 6th in BA's 2015 Top 10 Rays prospects list, dropping 8th here. The Rays needed some high-end prospects to add to a system lacking solid upper-level talent, and this off-season was a strong effort in that regard.