It is that point in the offseason where we take a look at the Rangers' 40 man roster, examine who is coming off, who will need to be added, and whose roster spots are in jeopardy.
Currently, the Rangers have 41 players on the 40 man roster. Those 41:
Of these 41, we know that Hamilton, Napoli, Uehara, Oswalt, Lowe, Dempster, and Adams are all free agents. We also know that Scott Feldman's option will be declined and Tyler Tufts will be dropped from the 40 man roster (he was added just as a way of giving the Rangers more flexibility in setting their playoff rosters), which means that the Rangers' 40 man roster will go down to 32 at the end of the month.
There are, of course, still players who will need to be added to the 40 man roster in the coming weeks to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft. You can see a complete list of Rule 5 eligibles by checking out this chart at Scott Lucas's website.
There are only two players who I would put in the "likely" category as far as being added to the roster: Lefthander Chad Bell, a 14th round draft choice from 2009 who had a breakout campaign in 2012, and shortstop Leury Garcia. Adding Bell and Garcia would get the 40 man roster up to 34.
Looking over the rest of the list, there are a few guys whose addition to the 40 man roster wouldn't shock me. There's Joe Ortiz, a 22 year old lefty reliever who did quality work for Frisco and Round Rock this year...however, the Rangers' failure to add call him up in September, at a time when they were seemingly desperate for lefty relief help, suggests that they aren't planning on using a 40 man roster spot on him. Odubel Herrera is a 20 year old shortstop who didn't embarrass himself in high-A, and also was 27 for 34 in steals...he's the type of player that a team will sometimes take a flyer on in the Rule 5 draft, thinking they might stash him away as a 25th man who can pinch run and play some middle infield, so its possible the Rangers add him to the roster rather than risk losing him. But regardless, those sorts of 40 man additions appear unlikely to create a roster issue for Texas.
That leaves six spots available for the Rangers to add players via free agency or trade. One of those spots will almost certainly go to a catcher, be it Mike Napoli or someone else, as the Rangers aren't going to go into 2013 with Soto and Martinez as their only catchers. The Rangers also will likely be looking for help in the outfield or at first base, and I would be mildly surprised if they didn't add someone at one of those spots who will take up a 40 man roster spot. There's still a need for a utility infielder, although I'm guessing the Rangers will likely not devote an offseason 40 man roster spot to a utility infielder, opting instead to bring in a collection of candidates on minor league deals to battle it out in spring training. And there will probably be two to four pitchers added to the 40 man roster who are on major league deals, given the losses to the rotation and bullpen.
So there doesn't appear to be an impending 40 man roster crunch...that said, there are also a handful of players whose roster spots appear not to be terribly safe, and who could get designated for assignment if the Rangers see someone interesting on the waiver wire they want to grab, or decide to grab someone in the Rule 5 Draft.
Julio Borbon, we all know about...he's gotten several chances, disappointed, and is likely heading to a new organization in the next several months. He's out of options at the end of the year, and thus would have stick on the 25 man roster at the start of 2013 or be exposed to waivers. Since some team would almost certainly put in a claim on Borbon, and since there's little indication the Rangers want him on their 25 man roster in 2013, he'll almost certainly be dealt.
Brandon Snyder also appear to be out of options in 2013, as the Baltimore Orioles purchased his contract in November of 2009, and he was optioned in 2010, 2011 and 2012. Snyder stuck as the Rangers' righthanded bench bat out of spring training, but never earned the trust of Ron Washington, didn't get much playing time, and ended up getting demoted in favor of Mike Olt in early August. Unlike Borbon, however, Snyder is a player who has a decent chance of clearing waivers at the end of spring training, and he appeared to make a good impression on the organization this season. He's someone I think is more likely to hang around until the end of March, be looked at as a possibility if there's an injury in camp, and who otherwise the team will try to slide through waivers and outright in order to keep him in the organization for depth.
Luis Martinez is a player whose roster spot could be in jeopardy, as well, since he's basically a third catcher who is kept around for depth purposes. He has an option remaining, so he's got value in terms of giving the team roster flexibility, but if the Rangers needed a 40 man roster spot, he's someone they could drop and seek to outright, figuring that, if he did get claimed, you can always find another third catcher with an option left from somewhere else.
And then there is Yoshinori Tateyama. The Rangers have an option on Tateyama for the 2013 season, and while I can't find the exact amount, I suspect it is similar to the $1 million he made in 2012. Tateyama didn't get much playing time this season, spending the bulk of the year in the minors, and while he seems like he should have value as a situational righty, the Rangers have utilized him more as a sacrificial-lamb long man in blow outs. Of the pitchers on the 40 man roster, Tateyama is the one guy I could see the Rangers potentially dropping, although I'd be a little surprised if that actually happened.
All this can change if the Rangers make some significant moves, and with the Rangers more likely to make an impact addition via the trade market than through free agency, you could see some more roster spots cleared if guys like Mike Olt and Justin Grimm were to be packaged for a veteran.
The bottom line, though, is that it doesn't appear the Rangers are facing a significant problem with their 40 man roster this offseason. If anything, they may have a spot or two free to use on grabbing an interesting player off of waivers, or to add someone via trade if a 40 man crunch results in another team having to designate an intriguing prospect for assignment.