ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays did not live up to expectations in 2016, which makes the notion of change popular. Yet there are some solid pieces in place heading into the offseason.
The infield appears set, the team has a solid rotation and they possess a strong back-end of the bullpen. Question marks arise when looking at the rest of the bullpen, the corner outfield and the catching.
Improving their roster by making a splash in the free-agent market has rarely been a tactic used by Rays' management. However, the team's past won't stop them from pursuing all angles to improve for the 2017 season. Bringing in free agents will be one of those angles.
Biggest potential free-agent loss: Jepsen is the one the team would most likely want to bring back. The Rays re-acquired the right-hander midway through the season, and he brought a veteran presence to the clubhouse. Jepsen said he would like to return to the team and although he had a down year in 2016, that could bode well for the Rays if they want to bring him back for '17.
When the 2016 season ended, catching duties were being split between Wilson, Curt Casali and Luke Maile. If they don't want to go with one of those three candidates, Drew Butera could be an interesting possibility.
Wild card scenario: If the Rays were to trade one of their more veteran members of their rotation, additional money might be freed up for the payroll to address any of the above-mentioned spots. However, given the relatively poor starting-pitching market, the Rays would likely use one of their starters to make a straight-up deal for what they wanted to acquire.
Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.