Conventional wisdom has it that the Rangers have to keep Jason Botts and Nelson Cruz on the 25 man roster, or lose them, because they are out of options. The standard belief is that either of these guys would be claimed.
But is that necessarily the case? Particularly for Botts, given his defensive limitations?
Let's run through the American League teams, who would presumably be the most likely to put in a claim for Botts, since he is considered primarily a DH.
Anaheim isn't going to claim him...they have too many players who need to DH as it is, and Reggie Willits may start the season in the minors because of a COF logjam.
Seattle isn't going to claim him. He isn't a Mariners type of player, and they have Jose Vidro and Richie Sexson locked in at DH and 1B. If someone were going to break into the COF mix, it would be Wladimir Balentien, most likely. And Seattle isn't the type of team that values a defensively limited, high OBP type like Botts, anyway.
Oakland? Everyone assumes the A's would grab Botts, but right now, the A's have Daric Barton, Jack Cust, and Dan Johnson in the mix for the 1B/DH slot. Travis Buck has a solid grip on a COF job. You could conceivably stick Cust in LF, where he played some last year, but even then, that just means you've found a way to get Johnson, Cust and Barton all in the lineup...that doesn't necessarily make room for Botts. For Oakland to grab Botts, there would either need to be an injury, or Billy Beane would have to believe he could move someone -- problem Dan Johnson -- for a player or players who, combined with Botts, have more value than Johnson alone. I think that's unlikely.
Moving to the Central...Cleveland has a full-time DH and a 1B tandem in place. Chicago has Paul Konerko, Jim Thome, and some new COFs. Minnesota could put in a claim, I guess, but they are set in the COF slots with Delmon Young and Mike Cuddyer, and at 1B with Justin Morneau. Jason Kubel appears to have the edge at the DH job, and Joe Mauer is going to get some DH ABs as well.
Detroit is set, and given that they are in "win now" mode, even if Gary Sheffield or Magglio Ordonez went down, they seem more likely to go get a Sean Casey type rather than taking a flyer on someone like Botts.
Kansas City is a possibility...they are set in the outfield, but they could slot Billy Butler at first base and let Botts DH. Or they could just mix in Botts at 1B and DH to spell Butler and Ross Gload.
The BoSox and the Yanks wouldn't claim him, you wouldn't think, because they are full up with guys for the DH and 1B roles.
The Devil Rays are a possibility, given Rocco Baldelli's injury situation and Cliff Floyd's perpetual achy-breakyness. They could slot Botts into the lineup as their DH right now.
The Orioles aren't likely to put in a claim, in part because it isn't exactly their style, but also because they already have Kevin Millar and Jay Gibbons and Aubrey Huff lurking. There's no need for Botts because there are already guys who fill the part-time DH/1B role on the roster.
The Blue Jays, meanwhile, have Frank Thomas and Lyle Overbay, plus Matt Stairs. They might be, conceptually, interested in Botts, but barring an injury to Thomas, there's nowhere to play him.
So it seems like there are two A.L. teams who would be candidates to claim Botts -- the Royals and the D-Rays. And neither of those are givens.
Looking at it, I wouldn't be surprised if Botts would end up clearing waivers, should the Rangers opt to drop him at the end of spring training.
And that would be bad news for Botts, since it would mean yet another season toiling at Oklahoma, and cementing his reputation as a AAAA guy without actually getting an opportunity to show what he can do with some regular ABs at the major league level.