The Texas Rangers 40 man roster looks a lot different now, after the trades of Yu Darvish, Jonathan Lucroy and Jeremy Jeffress, than it did just a week ago, and as we are now turning our attention more to what will happen in the offseason, with the chances of making the playoffs slipping away, its worth taking a look at the state of the Rangers’ 40 man roster.
The 40 man roster currently is at 36, and consists of:
In addition, there are five players currently on the 60 day d.l., who will have to be added back to the 40 man roster when the season is over:
Chi Chi Gonzalez
Of these 41 players, we have ___ players who are free agents at seasons end:
Mike Napoli (assuming his option isn’t exercised)
That gets us down to 36 players. Technically speaking, Tony Barnette could also become a free agent after the season, but I think his relatively cheap 2018 option ($4 million, with a $250,000 buyout) gets picked up if he performs adequately over the final two months of the season.
Your arbitration-eligible players are Jake Diekman, A.J. Griffin, Jurickson Profar, Tanner Scheppers, Anthony Bass, Ryan Rua, Keone Kela and Nick Martinez. Bass and Scheppers are the two players I could see as possible non-tender candidates from that group, though Griffin could be dropped, as well, particularly if he doesn’t pitch well after being activated from the d.l. later this month.
Jurickson Profar seems likely to be traded, which would clear a roster spot, but that’s another issue altogether.
Then there are non-arb-eligible players who seem likely to be waived should the team decide it wants to clear a roster spot. That would seem to encompass Austin Bibens-Dirkx, Clayton Blackburn, Joely Rodriguez, Tyler Smith and Jared Hoying.
Then there is Chi Chi Gonzalez, who will not be able to pitch again until 2019 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. The Rangers will have to decide if they want to carry him on the 40 man roster this offseason and next offseason, and pay him to be on the 60 day d.l. in 2018, in the hopes he will be able to contribute in 2019. He could end up being waived or non-tendered, as well.
So that drops the 40 man roster potentially down to 27 players. Which means that space on the 40 man roster shouldn’t be a big issue this offseason, even if the Rangers add three new starting pitchers, a center fielder, and a reliever or two.
Which leaves the question of who the Rangers will add to the 40 man roster this offseason to protect them from the Rule 5 draft. For this exercise, I am checking the handy-dandy Scott Lucas Rule 5 draft eligibility list.
There appear to be three obvious choices to be protected -- Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Jose Trevino and Ariel Jurado. Kiner-Falefa is having a nice season in AA, but more importantly, he’s exactly the type of player a team would target in the Rule 5 draft — a guy who can play just about every position, including catcher and shortstop, and who would be an ideal 25th man on the bench. Trevino is a quality defensive catcher whose bat has a ways to go, but who the organization clearly values and would seem prepared to protect. Jurado has had a rough year at AA, but is still has a good sinking fastball, and has a good enough arm you would think the Rangers would want to protect him.
There is also righthanded pitcher Ricardo Rodriguez, who has returned from missing all of 2016 with Tommy John surgery, and has been terrific so far this year. Rodriguez has put up a 1.43 ERA in 44 innings between Down East and Frisco this year, with 58 Ks against 10 walks. He’s also eligible to be a minor league free agent this offseason, if he isn’t added to the 40 man roster. I suspect that, rather than let him walk, the Rangers will add him to the 40 man and keep him around.
The rest of the candidates are mostly potential bullpen arms, or starters in the lower levels. Brett Martin has been, as Tepid puts it, a slow burn, struggling to stay healthy and get things locked in, but he’s a quality lefty arm who I think is going to get protected. Jonathan Hernandez has shown enough in A ball that someone could take a flier on him. Joseph Palumbo had Tommy John surgery, and a team would likely have to stash him on the 60 day d.l. all year, but he was good enough when healthy that someone could grab him, and if he comes back healthy the Rangers would be kicking themselves if they lost him. Reed Garrett, Pedro Payano, Sam Wolff, Nick Gardewine, and Collin Wiles are all pitchers who would seem to be under consideration.
In any case, the Rangers shouldn’t be facing a big 40 man roster crunch this offseason. They have enough free agents and spare parts they can cut loose to add pieces to help in 2018 through trades or free agency, and protect the guys they really want to protect in the Rule 5 draft.