Given the moves at the trade deadline and the recent additions to the roster, I thought it be worthwhile to do a quick update on where things stand in regards to the 40 man roster and the decisions to be made this offseason.
The Rangers currently have 46 players on the 40 man roster, including those players on the 45 day injured list, as well as Juan Nicasio, who is on the restricted list.
Of those 46 players, the following players will be free agents at the end of the season:
That would drop the roster to 40 players.
There were three players last time who had club options for 2021 — Todd Frazier, Robinson Chirinos and Corey Kluber. Frazier and Chirinos have been dealt, so those options are moot.
The Kluber option is an interesting decision — the consensus from the beat guys is that the Rangers aren’t going to want to pay the $18 million it would cost to exercise the option, but I would think the Rangers would want to try to keep him around, given the positive reviews he got this spring and in summer camp, and (although it is a sunk cost) given that they gave up Emmanuel Clase and Delino DeShields to get him, and I think they’d like to have more than one inning of work from Kluber to show for that.
In any case, if they decline the Kluber option without working out a deal to keep him, that would drop the 40 man roster to 39.
Luis Garcia and Yadiel Rivera are both still on the 40 man roster and are both still arbitration-eligible, but I’d be surprised if the Rangers kept either of them (and I thought Rivera was dropped from the 40 man roster when the Rangers designated him for assignment earlier this month, but apparently they just waived him without removing him from the 40 man).
So that gets us to either 37 or 38 players on the 40 man roster.
In my last update I identified five players — Eli White, Sam Huff, Alex Speas, Jason Bahr and John King — that I expected to be added to the 40 man roster this offseason to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft. White, Huff and King have already been added, which means that only Speas and Bahr, of that group, will need to be added.
However, I made a mistake in my Rule 5 analysis because I didn’t include Yerry Rodriguez, who I didn’t realize was Rule 5 eligible this offseason. Yerry is currently at the Alternate Training Site, and will almost certainly be added to the 40 man roster this offseason. I mentioned Jake Latz as a possibility, as well, and he is currently at the Alternate Training Site, which would seem to make him a little more likely to be added, though I think he’s a question mark still.
There are some others that are Rule 5 eligible — David Garcia and Joe Barlow being the players I think would be most likely to be protected among that group — but I think they are longshots.
So that puts the Rangers’ 40 man roster at somewhere between 40 and 42 players, depending on what the Rangers do with Corey Kluber and whether Jake Latz is added. Even if they don’t add Latz and let Kluber go, however, the team will be acquiring players for 2021 who will need 40 man roster spots, so they will probably need to clear out another half-dozen players or so who are currently on the 40 man roster.
Danny Santana’s elbow surgery will sideline him until probably May, and given that he’s entering his final year of arbitration eligibility, and that even with his lost 2020 season he would likely be getting a raise from the $3.6 million his contract provides for this year, I think he’s almost certainly dropped.
Lance Lynn, Rougned Odor, and Joey Gallo were the subject of trade talks at the deadline, and they will likely continue to be the subject of trade talks this offseason. Odor would be the swap of a bad contract for another bad contract, though, and while I thought he would be released before the end of the year if he wasn’t dealt, it appears they are going to ride things out with him for a while and see if they can make an albatross for albatross deal this offseason, so he’ll likely either be here most of the winter or be swapped for someone else who will use a 40 man roster spot. Meanwhile, if the Rangers dealt either Lynn or Gallo, they’d almost certainly be getting back at least one player on the 40 man roster, so those moves wouldn’t create any breathing room, either.
The Rangers currently have 5 players on the 40 man roster who I would put in the category of guys they’d like to hang on to, but who are potential casualties if the team needs a 40 man roster spot — Luke Farrell, Ian Gibaut, Nick Goody, Jimmy Herget and Adolis Garcia. These are guys I could see the Rangers hanging onto for a while, and either designating for assignment and trying to run through waivers if and when they need a 40 man roster spot, or non-tendering at the deadline for tendering 2021 contracts and trying to re-sign to a minor league deal.*
* The advantage to doing that rather than waiving a player and trying to outright him is that if you waive the player, another team can claim him, and then that team can try to sneak him through waivers later. By non-tendering the player, you can sign the player to a minor league deal without the risk of another team claiming him on waivers. The flip side of that is that the player is a free agent once he is non-tendered, and can sign with whoever he wants.
Removing all 5 players, along with Santana, would end up giving the Rangers (if my math is right) 4 to 6 free spots on the 40 man roster (depending on what they do with Kluber and Latz) to sign a backup catcher, sign a starting pitcher (particularly if they don’t bring Kluber back), go get a hitter (should they decide they want to bring in a free agent hitter), and do whatever else they are aiming to do this winter.