Rays add four to roster, boast flexibility

Rays add four to roster, boast flexibility

ST. PETERSBURG -- Given the number of free agents the Rays have, there was plenty of space to be filled on the team's 40-man roster that was released late Friday afternoon.

Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena and Rafael Soriano head the list of free agents, and one of their numbers, Joaquin Benoit, has already signed with the Tigers.

The great unknown for Tampa Bay is how many of the team's free agents will be wearing uniforms of other Major League teams next season. But for now at least, they don't occupy spots on the Rays' roster, thereby affording the club the opportunity to protect more players at the Major League level.

On Friday, Tampa Bay added catcher Nevin Ashley and right-handers Dane De La Rosa, Alex Cobb and Albert Suarez to the 40-man roster. In addition, the club declined the option on first baseman Jose Ruiz and released him, putting their roster at 35.

Heading to the upcoming Winter Meetings with five available rosters spots will give the Rays some maneuverability to claim players at the Major League level during the Rule 5 Draft on the final day of the Meetings.

The Rays' roster is composed of 16 pitchers, five catchers, eight infielders and six outfielders.

Here's how the roster breaks down:

Pitchers: Matt Bush, RHP; Alex Cobb, RHP; Lance Cormier, RHP; Wade Davis, RHP; Dane De La Rosa, RHP; Mike Eckstrom, RHP; Matt Garza, RHP; Jeremy Hellickson, RHP; J.P. Howell, LHP; Jake McGee, LHP; Jeff Niemann, RHP; David Price, LHP; James Shields, RHP; Andy Sonnanstine, RHP; Albert Suarez, RHP; and Alex Torres, LHP.

Catchers: Nevin Ashley, John Jaso, Jose Lobaton, Dioner Navarro and Kelly Shoppach.

Infielders: Leslie Anderson, Willy Aybar, Jason Bartlett, Reid Brignac, Dan Johnson, Elliot Johnson, Evan Longoria and Sean Rodriguez.

Outfielders: Desmond Jennings, Matt Joyce, Fernando Perez, Justin Ruggiano, B.J. Upton and Ben Zobrist.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.