Rays clean out the clubhouse after fouth-straight losing season

By Lindsay Liquori, Spectrum Sports
Last Updated: Tuesday, October 03, 2017, 9:34 PM EDT

For the fourth-straight year there will be no postseason baseball for the Tampa Bay Rays.

The team cleaned out their lockers Monday after going 80-82 in 2017.

Well, Rays third baseman Evan Longoria cleaned out his locker Monday. 

He was the sole player around to bid farewell to another disappointing season.

"Obviously, you come into spring wanting to go to the postseason," said Longoria.  "When you’re leaving on the last day of the regular season and packing your stuff up and heading home, its not a good feeling."

The Rays were surprise buyers around the All-Star break and trade deadline.  They brought in shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria.  They added critical bullpen pieces Steve Cishek, Sergio Romo and Dan Jennings.  They were a season high seven games over .500 in July.  A playoff spot seemed very attainable.

"This one stung a little bit more simply cause of the position we put ourselves in coming out of the break," said manager Kevin Cash, who tied his managerial high in victories from 2015.  "We were feeling pretty good, for good reason. We played well against some big series."

"I thought even into the beginning of September there was a real chance we could still make the playoffs," said Longoria, who hit 20 home runs this season.  "We kept talking about making a run and going on a nice streak and it just never happened."

The hunt for October fell apart in the second half.   Once again they are on the outside looking in, despite a 12-win improvement.

"It’ll take some time, but if we begin to start accepting 80 (wins) or something that’s not good enough, I don’t know where we are going," said Cash.

They also don't know where Alex Cobb is going. Most are assuming the right-handed pitcher has played his last game as a Ray. 

He's spent a dozen years in the organization.  During seven years in the majors (missing 2015-ACL) he went 48-35 with a 3.50 ERA.  The now free agent will likely leave for a bigger pay roll.  But is there a chance he could stay?

"You can never rule anything out," said Sr. VP of Baseball Operations Chaim Bloom.

"That’ll be part of the conversations that were going to have starting today where we’ll step back and look at different ways where this club could come together and see.  But there’s no question the caliber of pitcher that he is."

"Every time he went out there he pitched to win and it’s been a pleasure playing behind him," said Longoria.  "If he’s not back it’ll be a big loss for us."

Bigger than the 82 from this year.