The Texas Rangers have some relatively good news on the injury front — Rougned Odor is starting a rehab assignment today, and appears likely to be back on the active roster at some point in the Seattle series, while Ronald Guzman looks like he should be ready to be activated at some point next week.
However, once both players are ready to go, the Rangers are going to have to make moves to clear spots on the 25 man roster for each player. One move is easy — Patrick Wisdom will be optioned back to AAA Nashville once Odor is activated, be that on Friday or Saturday.
The decision on how to clear a spot for Ronald Guzman, though, isn’t quite so easy.
The Rangers called up Danny Santana when Odor went on the d.l., after Santana had a surprising spring that had him in the mix for a roster spot until the last day of camp. Santana has excelled so far in the majors, putting up a .333/.351/.611 slash line. A switch hitter who can play the infield and the outfield, Santana provides depth and versatility, and he can’t be sent back to the minors without clearing waivers. One gets the sense that the Rangers would like to keep him around.
If Santana stays, does that make the other utility infielder, Logan Forsythe, expendable? Forsythe made the team out of spring training as the backup infielder, but has slashed just .204/313/.315 in 65 plate appearances so far this year. He’s been outplayed by Santana so far, but on the other hand, we’re talking about just a handful of plate appearances. In addition, Chris Woodward, who was with the Dodgers when Forsythe played for Los Angeles the previous couple of years, appears to be a strong advocate for Forsythe.
So, how about Hunter Pence? The veteran is limited to DH and corner outfield duty, and if you have Santana, you don’t need Pence to back up the outfield spots. Pence, though, is someone the Rangers have talked about valuing because of his clubhouse presence and veteran leadership, and last night on the telecast, Erin Hartigen talked about the respect and admiration Pence’s younger teammates have for him. Plus, he’s actually hitting decently — he’s slashing .297/.325/.486, and is 23rd in all of MLB in average exit velocity this year.
Which takes us to the bullpen. The Rangers have been going with an eight man bullpen all season, and have tended to use an eight man bullpen frequently the past couple of years. With three spots in the rotation that are shaky and not expected to regularly be able to provide lots of innings, the team obviously wants to have depth in the bullpen to keep from overtaxing the relievers.
That said, the Rangers could opt to go with a seven man bullpen, at least for a period of time. Wei-Chieh Huang, Jeffrey Springs, Brett Martin, Chris Martin and Jose Leclerc all have options remaining, and while Huang is likely getting sent back down once Drew Smyly is activated, and Leclerc and C. Martin aren’t likely going anywhere, one of the two lefties could be optioned to open up a roster spot. Jeanmar Gomez was a surprising addition to the bullpen out of camp, and hasn’t pitched well (a 6.48 ERA in 8.1 IP, albeit with a 3.48 FIP), so he could end up getting waived. There’s also Kyle Dowdy, the Rule 5 guy the Rangers added right before Opening Day — he’s shown some promise, but the Rangers could decide they can’t keep a R5 guy and put him on waivers, or they could decide his arm is sore and stash him on the injured list for a period of time.
So what are they going to do? I really don’t know...and of course, there could be another injury or something else could happen that would solve this situation before a decision has to be made. My guess is that Jeanmar Gomez ends up being designated for assignment once Guzman is activated, but that’s just a guess.