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Texas Ranger non-tender candidates

Monday, December 2, is the deadline for teams to tender contracts to players under team control, and the Rangers could opt to non-tender one or more players

Texas Rangers v Oakland Athletics Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

Texas Rangers rumors: The deadline for tendering contracts to arbitration-eligible players and other players who are under team control but are not currently under contract is December 2, 2019.

With the Rangers’ 40 man roster currently sitting at 40 (though that could drop to 39 if Nick Goody opts for free agency in the aftermath of the Rangers claiming him on waivers, and does not include Kyle Gibson, who likely will be added to the 40 man roster next week when his free agent contract is finalized), I would expect to see the Rangers choose to non-tender a player or two on Monday in order to clear some room on the 40 man roster.

The Rangers have five arbitration-eligible players on the 40 man roster right now, who are listed below, along with what MLB Trade Rumors projects their salaries for 2020 to be:

Nomar Mazara — $5.7 million

Joey Gallo — $4 million

Danny Santana — $3.9 million

Delino DeShields — $2.4 million

Rafael Montero — $900,000

Gallo isn’t going anywhere. DeShields and Santana both have their flaws, but are still cheap and versatile and can be used in a bench role or as a starter as need be. Montero was very good for the Rangers in the second half of last season and for barely above the minimum would seem to be safe.

Nomar Mazara is the one arbitration-eligible player who I could see the Rangers non-tendering. I’m not expecting them to non-tender Mazara — the salary isn’t that much, and even if they are ready to move on from him, they’d likely tender him a contract and look to trade him later in the winter. But if there is someone who is arbitration eligible for Texas who I could see being dropped, it is Mazara.

More likely, the Rangers would use the non-tender deadline as a mechanism to drop a pre-arbitration player or two from their 40 man roster without having to put them on waivers. The advantage for the Rangers of non-tendering a player rather than waiving them is that they don’t have to risk another team claiming the player — particularly given the trend in recent years for teams to put in claims on guys they don’t intend to keep on the 40 man roster, grabbing them with the intent of trying to waive them and outright them later in the offseason.

The risk, of course, is that when a player is non-tendered, he becomes a free agent and can sign with any team. What teams sometimes do is work with the player’s agent on the parameters of a minor league contract before non-tendering the player, with the intent of re-signing the player to a minor league deal after he has been non-tendered that includes an invite to major league spring training and a more generous minor league salary than they might otherwise receive.

The Rangers did this last offseason, non-tendering Matt Bush, Zac Curtis and Adrian Sampson, all of whom they re-signed to minor league deals.

The two players that stick out to me as potential candidates to be non-tendered are Luke Farrell and Wei-Chieh Huang. Farrell, a 28 year old righthanded pitcher, spent most of 2019 on the injured list after suffering a fractured jaw after being hit by a batted ball in spring training. Once he returned to the majors, he put up a 2.70 ERA and a 5.01 FIP in 13.1 IP for Texas.

Here’s Farrell’s transaction log from the last two-plus years:

July 28, 2017: Purchased by the Los Angeles Dodgers from the Kansas City Royals.

August 9, 2017: Selected off waivers by the Cincinnati Reds from the Los Angeles Dodgers.

October 4, 2017: Selected off waivers by the Chicago Cubs from the Cincinnati Reds.

September 3, 2018: Selected off waivers by the Los Angeles Angels from the Chicago Cubs.

January 4, 2019: Selected off waivers by the Texas Rangers from the Los Angeles Angels.

For a guy who has bounced around the waiver wire, and who, if he were waived now, would have a good chance of getting the claimed/waived/outrighted treatment, the prospect of agreeing to take a minor league deal from the Rangers that would pay him at least what he’d make in the minors if he were still on the 40 man roster, and knowing that he’ll be with the organization rather than being subject to the waiver wire roulette and then possibly being outrighted, may be appealing enough for him to agree to cut a deal with Texas.

And even if he wants to explore the market, he seems unlikely to get a major league deal, meaning that the Rangers would still have a good chance of bringing him back. With there likely needing to be a few 40 man roster spots cleared out for major league additions later in the offseason, non-tendering Farrell and trying to bring him back would seem to be more palatable than risking putting him on waivers and seeing a team with more 40 man space grab him.

Huang, a 26 year old righthanded reliever, came over to Texas from Arizona in the Jake Diekman trade last year. He had four appearances in the majors for Texas in 2019, but spent most of the year in Frisco and Nashville. He also spent a good portion of the year on the injured list, and hasn’t been that impressive since the Rangers acquired him. Righty relievers whose best pitch is a changeup can have a hard time making it in the majors, and Huang was on the bubble to even be added to the 40 man roster last November. He seems like someone the Rangers would see as a candidate to non-tender and then re-sign, as well.