The Texas Rangers non-tendered pitcher Jimmy Herget and outfielder Scott Heineman yesterday. Neither player was arbitration-eligible, and the Rangers have indicated previously they like both players. Both players are now free agents, causing a certain amount of questioning and consternation from Rangers fans about why those moves were made, and why the Rangers wouldn’t want to hold onto that pair.
The Rangers, I suspect, do want to keep both players in the organization, which is why they opted to non-tender them. The Rangers could have put the two on outright waivers, and either outrighted them if they cleared, or received $20,000 if they were claimed. If they wanted them off the 40 man roster and didn’t have a significant preference for keeping them, that’s the option they would have gone with, since the team would have either kept them on an outright assignment or received a sum of cash for them.
The problem with that is teams in recent years have started churning the bottom of their 40 man rosters with waiver claims that they then try to outright. If another team is interested in Herget, they could put in a claim on him, then once he is on their 40 man roster, turn around and waive him, in an effort to try to sneak him through waivers and outright him themselves. If another team claims him, they get the same $20,000 payment from the claiming team that they paid to get Herget in the first place, so no loss. If no one claims him, they’ve acquired a player who is now on a minor league deal for just $20,000. Its a no-lose proposition.
To avoid that problem, the Rangers (and many other teams) have started non-tendering players that they want to remove from the 40 man roster but keep in their organization. A player who is non-tendered is a free agent. The Rangers can re-sign him to a minor league deal without the risk that another team will claim him. The flip side of that is that, as a free agent, a player can sign with any team he wants, so the Rangers are generally going to be selective about who they non-tender, and likely get on the same page with the player and his agent about what sort of terms they would be looking to bring the player back on.
And if we look at the history of pre-arb players the Rangers have non-tendered in recent years, we see that they usually re-sign those players to minor league deals soon after the non-tender.
In 2019, the Rangers non-tendered Ian Gibaut and Wei-Chieh Huang. Huang re-signed a couple of days later, Gibaut a couple of weeks later.
In 2018, the Rangers non-tendered Matt Bush, Ricky Rodriguez, Adrian Sampson and Zac Curtis. Bush and Curtis re-signed a couple of weeks later, Sampson resigned in the first week of January, and Rodriguez re-signed in the first week of February.
In 2017, the Rangers non-tendered Chi Chi Gonzalez and Hanser Alberto. Gonzalez re-signed just a couple of days later, and Hanser re-signed in January.
In 2016, the Rangers non-tendered Jared Hoying. Hoying re-signed a couple of weeks later.
In 2015, the Rangers non-tendered Nick Tepesch and James Jones. Jones re-signed a week later, and Tepesch re-signed in January.
In 2014, the Rangers non-tendered Michael Kirkman. Kirkman re-signed with Texas two days later.
In 2013, there were no pre-arb non-tenders.
In 2012, the Rangers non-tendered Jacob Brigham and Brandon Snyder. Brigham and Snyder each re-signed a week later.
In 2011, the Rangers non-tendered Fabio Castillo. Castillo re-signed the next day.
In 2009 and 2010, it doesn’t appear the Rangers non-tendered any pre-arb players.
In 2008, the Rangers non-tendered new Rangers pitching coach Doug Mathis. Mathis re-signed just a couple of days later.
I don’t see (on LSB, anyway) that any pre-arb players were non-tendered by the Rangers from 2005-07. LSB didn’t exist prior to 2005 so that’s as far back as I can go in searching.
So it appears that every player who was not yet arbitration-eligible that the Rangers have non-tendered in the Jon Daniels era has re-signed with Texas. That would seem to suggest that you shouldn’t throw out your Scott Heineman or Jimmy Herget shirseys just yet.