Opening Day is just 17 days away, and the Texas Rangers’ 25 man roster still has a few question marks, although it seems to largely be taking shape. As a fun little exercise, I’m going to see if I can predict what the Opening Day roster ends up looking like.
Starting Pitchers (5) — Cole Hamels, Mike Minor, Matt Moore, Doug Fister, Martin Perez
Its possible Perez starts the season on the disabled list due to his broken right elbow, but all reports indicate he’s ahead of schedule. He’s thrown up to 70 pitches in bullpen sessions already, and is pitching in a minor league game today. Its possible Perez starts the season on the d.l., but I think he’s probably on the active roster. I also think that the six man rotation that was all the talk of the offseason and the early part of camp appears to have been put on the shelf at this point, despite Bartolo Colon having a good camp.
Relief Pitchers (8) -- Matt Bush, Jake Diekman, Alex Claudio, Chris Martin, Tony Barnette, Jesse Chavez, Keone Kela, Jose Leclerc
This is where you could see some possible variation. Tim Lincecum signed late, and it seems there’s a good chance he opens the season on the disabled list so he can have addition time to get up to speed and ready for the season. That opens up a roster spot for Jose Leclerc, who has had a nice camp, but who seems likely to be a victim to a numbers game and will be sent down once Lincecum is ready. Keone Kela is dealing with a shoulder issue that could land him on the d.l. to start the year, which would open up another spot. Chavez is on a non-guaranteed major league deal, but seems well-suited to a long man/spot starter role. If for whatever reason the Rangers go with a six man rotation, Chavez would potentially be battling with Colon for that sixth spot.
Infielders (5) -- Joey Gallo, Rougned Odor, Elvis Andrus, Adrian Beltre, Jurickson Profar
Nothing to really talk about here. This group was locked in once camp opened, and so long as everyone is healthy, it would be a big surprise if these aren’t the five infielders to start the season.
Outfielders (4) — Delino DeShields, Nomar Mazara, Drew Robinson, Ryan Rua
This is where we have uncertainty. The thirteen man pitching staff means the Rangers can only carry four outfielders. Willie Calhoun started camp red hot, has slowed down, and there’s been talk about him needing to work on his defense. He has options and the Rangers would gain a year of service time if they sent him down to start the year, so if it is close, he likely is going to be one of the odd men out. Carlos Tocci is a terrific defensive center fielder who can’t hit — as a Rule 5 pick, he has to stay on the 25 man roster or be offered back to Philadelphia, and if the Rangers were to go with a twelve man pitching staff they could justify keeping him as a fourth guy on the bench. With just a three man bench, though, it would be tough. That would leave Ryan Rua and Drew Robinson as a left field platoon to start the year, with Robinson also backup up center field.
Catchers (2) — Robinson Chirinos, Mystery Catcher From Outside the Organization
As I go off the board with my final roster spot. Chirinos obviously has the starting job locked down, but, as frequently is the case, the backup catcher job is up in the air. Brett Nicholas was designated for assignment, leaving Juan Centeno as the only legitimate backup option on the 40 man roster (Jose Trevino and Isiah Kiner-Falefa are on the 40 man, but will be in the minors developing unless the Rangers need a short-term option up). If I had to pick Centeno or someone outside the organization right now, though, I’d probably go with the field. Carlos Ruiz, who was a favorite of Cole Hamels when they were with the Phillies, is a free agent and has been mentioned. We could also see the Rangers claim a Bobby Wilson/Chris Gimenez type on waivers, or make a minor deal for someone like that, and go with that player instead of Centeno.
DH (1) — Shin-Soo Choo
I forgot about him initially. Oops.