The Texas Rangers 40 man roster changed significantly at the trade deadline, as did the outlook for the 40 man roster this offseason, so its a good time to take a look at where the Rangers’ 40 man roster stands now, and what decisions the Rangers will have to make in regards to the 40 man roster this offseason.
First, a rundown of the current 40 man roster, which consists of 39 players currently occupying spots and 5 players on the 60 day disabled list:
Of that group, there are 5 free agents — Barnette, Colon, Gallardo, Beltre and Moore (assuming his option is declined, which it definitely will be). That leaves the Rangers with 39 players on the 40 man roster, which means that there will have to be trimming (since players will need to be added this offseason).
There are two pitchers who have options for 2019 that could be exercised — Perez and Fister. Perez’s option gets picked up, I suspect, barring a complete collapse over the final two months. Fister, who was serviceable when he was healthy, but who has spent a lot of time on the disabled list, has a relatively cheap $4.5 million option with a $500K buyout. If the Rangers think he can be healthy in 2019, picking up that option makes sense, but that is a huge question mark, and it wouldn’t be surprising if the Rangers declined the option.
Two pitchers have missed all of 2018 due to injury — Blackburn and Herrera. Blackburn had Tommy John surgery and will miss a good chunk of 2019 rehabbing, while Herrera had shoulder surgery. Both appear unlikely to be carried on the 40 man roster this offseason.
There are three pitchers who are depth guys primarily — Bibens-Dirkx, Mann, and Rowley. While it is possible the Rangers could hang onto them, it seems unlikely they would stick on the 40 man roster — they are more likely to be waived or non-tendered, with the team seeking to potentially bring them back on a minor league deal.
There are the pitchers who will be out of options next season — Butler (who is out of options now), Mendez, and Sadzeck. I think Butler and Mendez are safe at least through spring training, but Sadzeck, who has not made it to the majors and who has had limited success in the minors, could be on the bubble if a roster spot were needed.
Nick Gardewine is in a category of his own. He is a reliever on the 40 man roster, but he has been on the minor league disabled list since May. If he has a serious injury issue that would put his 2019 availability in question, the Rangers could drop him.
Cory Gearrin, similarly, gets his own category — he’s likely looking at $2.5-3 million in arbitration this offseason, and hasn’t been terribly effective this year. He’s a free agent after 2019 either way, but the Rangers may feel they’ve got better bullpen options to look at, which could mean Gearrin being non-tendered or dealt.
Among position players, there are really just three players who would seem to be in danger of losing their 40 man roster spot — Ryan Rua, Drew Robinson and Hanser Alberto, all of whom are basically depth guys. Rua is out of options and is arbitration-eligible, which could prompt the Rangers to non-tender or waive him early in the offseason, or which could prompt the Rangers to try to run him through waivers late in camp (if he’s not going to make the team) to try to outright him. Robinson has options remaining after this season, Alberto doesn’t, and the Rangers have dropped Alberto from the 40 man roster once before. My guess is that Hanser is a 40 man roster casualty, and it wouldn’t shock me if either Robinson or Rua were, as well.
If we assume the two injured pitchers, the three depth guys, Fister, and one of the position players are off the 40 man roster, that gets the 40 man to 32, before any free agent signings or minor leaguers added to protect them from the Rule 5 draft. College players and players 19+ when acquired drafted in 2015 or earlier, and high school and international guys who were signed at 18 or younger from 2014 and earlier, will be Rule 5 eligible this offseason.
Two minor leagues the Rangers traded for — Taylor Hearns and Wei-Chieh Huang — are Rule 5 eligible after this season. Hearns is a slam-dunk to be added, and while Huang is more borderline, I’m skeptical the team would acquire him and then expose him this offseason.
Looking at Scott Lucas’s handy-dandy Rule 5 eligibility spreadsheet, we can see who needs to be added. The guys who I think will definitely be added who are eligible are C.D. Pelham, Brady Feigl, Scott Heineman, and Edgar Arredondo.
Other players who would be in consideration for 40 man roster spots would be John Fasola, who returned from Tommy John surgery only to tear his ACL; Reed Garrett, a big, hard-throwing righthander; Cole Wiper, a righty who got a big signing bonus as a later round pick in 2013, who has just been promoted to Frisco; Jairo Beras, outfielder-turned-pitcher; Michael de Leon, great defensive infielder who hasn’t hit; Emerson Martinez, intriguing A-ball arm; Yohel Pozo, intriguing A-ball catcher; Adam Choplick, giant lefty reliever; Ledarious Clark, toolsy A ball outfielder; Josh Morgan, infielder/catcher project at AA; Andy Ibanez, AAA infielder; and 2015 college pitchers Michael Matuella and Jake Lemoine.
And this doesn’t include players who were signed as minor league free agents this offseason who can be minor league free agents after the season, such as Jose Cardona, Anthony Gose and James Jones.
UPDATE — It was pointed out to me that Pedro Gonzalez is Rule 5 eligible as well, and would seem to be in the “maybe” column.
If the Rangers opt to add one or two of the “maybes” to protect them from the Rule 5 draft — say, Ibanez and Pozo — that puts, with all the other assumptions that we have made above, the Rangers’ 40 man roster at around 40. And that’s before any offseason trade acquisitions or signings. Which means some of the bubble guys we initially had as safe, like Sadzeck, Gardewine, Gearrin, or the other position players, could end up being shopped or non-tendered.
I think there’s a decent chance that one of the corner/DH bats gets moved this offseason, though I thought that this past offseason, and it didn’t happen. Shin-Soo Choo’s 10/5 rights vest at the end of the season, which means once the season is over, he can’t be traded without his consent, complicating matters with him and putting the Rangers in a situation where they may need to move him in August if they are going to move him at all. Guys on the major league roster currently getting dealt would create some 40 man roster space.
But there will be some tough decisions that will need to be made this offseason in regards to the 40 man roster.