Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 2/4/13
Another active offseason, another anticipated summer. Consistency has become the Tampa Bay Rays calling card of late, and calculated moves this winter will make Joe Maddons team one of the most fascinating to study in the American League East. Consider the largest splashes: Third baseman Evan Longoria signed a 100 million extension through 2022 in November; General manager Andrew Friedman dangled All-Star pitcher James Shields and another right-hander, reliever Wade Davis, as trade assets for the Kansas City Royals to snap up in a December deal that could alter the direction of both franchises; in the process, the Rays gained four prospects including prized outfield talent Wil Myers from whats considered one of baseballs deepest farm systems. Later in January, veteran second baseman Kelly Johnson, formerly of the Toronto Blue Jays, added depth by agreeing to a one-year deal. Where will the action lead? Earning the clubs fourth playoff berth since 2008 should be the goal, after missing the postseason for the first time since 2010 last fall. The Rays won at least 90 games for the fourth time in five years, but they finished three games behind the Baltimore Orioles and Texas Rangers for wild-card spots. Another active winter? More anticipation? Its just another flip of the calendar for one of major leagues savviest franchises. Key acquisitions: 2B Kelly Johnson, SS Yunel Escobar, OF Wil Myers, RHP Jake Odorizzi, 1B James Loney Key losses: RHP James Shields, RHP Wade Davis, OF B.J. Upton, 1B Carlos Pena Burning Questions How much will the Rays miss James Shields? His absence will be felt. Revisit the regular-season innings that Shields gave Tampa Bay over the past six campaigns: 215 in 2007 and 08, 219.2 in 09, 203.1 in 10, 249.1 in 11 and 227.2 in 12. Its little wonder that Friedman called dealing Shields and Davis the most difficult trade hes made. Left-hander David Prices emergence is well-documented he earned a career-low 2.56 ERA last season while winning the American League Cy Young Award but he and the rest of the staff must fill the void left by Shields departure. The hole will be large, because Shields offered touch as well as endurance. He struck out a career-high 225 hitters in 2011, and he followed that effort by fanning 223 last season (Price finished second on the team with 205). Tampa Bay still has skill on the hill. But adjustment will be required. What can the Rays expect from Evan Longoria? Longoria received a well-earned extension in the offseason, and it signified his growth as well as the maturation of the franchise under Friedman and owner Stuart Sternberg. Selected by Tampa Bay with the third overall pick of the 2006 draft, the three-time All-Star has cracked at least 118 hits during seasons in which he has played at least 122 games. The production positioned himself as an impact player for years to come in a Rays uniform. Still, he sustained a setback last season. A left hamstring injury limited him to 74 games, 48 fewer than he played as a rookie in 2008, his previous career low. Will he remain healthy? (He underwent surgery for the hamstring in November.) How will he manage the psychological pressures of signing the extension? Well discover the answers soon. How much of an impact will Wil Myers make? The acclaimed prospects Tropicana Field debut will happen sometime, if not to start the season then perhaps soon after. The Rays gave up considerable depth within its rotation in acquiring Myers and other prospects, including Odorizzi. Still, Myers will receive the brightest spotlight among those involved in the trade, at least at the start. Tampa Bay has reason to be excited about him. He was considered the minor leagues top hitter among many last season, earning a .314 average with 37 home runs and 109 RBI in time split between Class AA Northwest Arkansas and Class AAA Omaha. There are many traits to like: his athleticism, his potential for power and a sound IQ in the batter's box for a 22-year-old. Who got the best of the swap between Tampa Bay and Kansas City? Time will tell. Division Rivals The New York Yankees, the defending AL East champions, locked in key talent but have uncertainty surrounding a fading star. Pitchers Andy Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda were re-signed, as was reliever Mariano Rivera and outfielder Ichiro Suzuki. But what will become of third baseman Alex Rodriguez? Allegations of PED use involving a South Florida clinic have placed the franchise in a difficult spot. The Baltimore Orioles look to continue momentum a year after earning their first postseason berth since 1997. Manager Buck Showalter (five years) and general manager Dan Duquette (four years) received extensions in what was a relatively quiet offseason in Charm City. The Toronto Blue Jays winter was anything but tame, after the AL Easts fourth-place finisher a season ago made bold moves. Shortstop Jose Reyes and infielderoutfielder Emilio Bonifacio were among the high-profile names gained in the Miami Marlins salary dump. They also acquired NL Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey from the Mets. Manager John Gibbons was hired to replace John Farrell, who went to the Boston Red Sox. The Boston Red Sox look to flip the page from the dysfunctional Bobby Valentine era. Hiring Farrell should produce a less combustible clubhouse environment. The signings of outfielder Shane Victorino, first baseman Mike Napoli and pitcher Ryan Dempster also are efforts to recover from a dreadful 69-93 campaign. You can follow Andrew Astleford on Twitter @aastleford or email him at aastleford@gmail.com.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Trade Rumors: Clippers ‘reluctant’ to deal injured Blake Griffin

Bright future for Minnesota Timberwolves

Eli and Archie Manning say Peyton won’t likely leave Denver if he plays in 2016

NCAA mulls changes to graduate transfer and targeting rules

Cavs active in NBA trade market, covet Jared Dudley

Roger Goodell expectedly dodges Patriots-related questions at Super Bowl

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Baltimore Orioles acquire starting pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne

USC athletic director Pat Haden to retire in June

Report: Browns owner ‘frustrated, emotional’ about Johnny Manziel

Raiders and Texans to play MNF game in Mexico City in 2016

Goodell wants to keep Raiders, Chargers in home markets

Deadly shooting breaks out at Dublin boxing weigh-in

Take a moment to appreciate the greatness of Cam Newton

4-Star 2018 quarterback Matt Corral commits to USC

QUIZ: Name every NFL regular season MVP

WATCH: Avery Bradley nails buzzer beater to beat Cavs

WATCH: Jimmy Butler taken to locker room in wheel chair

Klay Thompson's first five years in historical context

WATCH: Cubs' Kris Bryant went swimming with sharks

Sports Authority taking steps to file for bankruptcy

Major League Baseball threatens to disassociate from DraftKings

NFL considering moving Pro Bowl to Australia

Joe Montana warns NFL players about potential long-term damage after retirement

Report: Two people fired for leaking Jason Pierre-Paul information

‘Crying Jordan’ photographer had no idea it existed until this week

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The 14 biggest plays in Super Bowl history

Five outrageous predictions for Super Bowl 50

QUIZ: Name the winning starting quarterback from every Super Bowl

The top six matchups that could decide Super Bowl 50

Seven unheralded players set to make major impacts in SB 50

10 underrated performances in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

X-factors in Super Bowl 50

NHL nightmare: No Canadian teams in playoff hunt

QUIZ: Name the Super Bowl halftime performers since 1991

Manziel's father fears for QB's life

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker