Early in the season — exactly two months ago, in fact — we did a post on the various minor leaguers in the Texas Rangers’ farm system that will be Rule 5 eligible this offseason. Now that we are at the All Star Break, and we have seen how some minor leaguers have progressed, as well as how some players currently on the 40 man roster are doing, I thought it would be worthwhile to take a look at where things currently stand.
Here are the players who are Rule 5 eligible who I think would get at least some consideration to be added to the 40 man roster this offseason.
The first six players listed are all, I think, near-certain to be added, though I have Ronny Henriquez with an asterisk because I am not 100% certain that he is Rule 5 eligible this offseason.
The original post has write-ups of most of these players, along with some other players who I had on the radar at the time who I think at this point aren’t really candidates to be added, and you can click on the link above if you want to read more on them.
There are three names on the above list I didn’t make mention of in May — Joe Gatto, Nick Snyder and Miguel Aparicio.
Nick Snyder is a 25 year old righthanded pitcher who was a 19th round draft pick of the Rangers in 2017 out of Indian River State College in Florida. He spent 2017 and 2018 in the AZL, not doing much, then put up a 3.06 ERA in 53 relief innings for Hickory in 2019, striking out 60 and walking 14. He threw ten innings in the Arizona Fall League after Hickory’s season ended.
COVID-19 wiped out the 2020 season, and Snyder seemed like just a random organizational arm, at least to me, when the 2021 season began. He returned to (now high-A) Hickory for 2021, struck out 17 of 44 batters he faced, and was promoted to AA Frisco after just 12 innings over 10 games.
Snyder has electrified the folks who have watched him in Frisco — he’s apparently touching 100 with a very good slider. He has faced 33 batters at the AA level, struck out 14 of them, walked no one, and allowed just one run, on a home run, one of five hits allowed. The reports are that he has major league stuff, and could be in the majors this year.
Joe Gatto was signed to a major league deal this offseason, had what were apparently off the chart control issues this spring, was waived and outrighted, and has since pitched well at AA and AAA. He’s a minor league free agent after the season if he’s not added to the 40 man roster. He’s also someone who could be brought to the majors for an audition in the second half, with his ability to hang onto a 40 man spot being contingent on how he looks in the majors.
Miguel Aparicio also began 2021 with Hickory, after having spent all of 2019 there. Aparicio also spent parts of 2017 and 2018 with Hickory. Aparicio was part of the same J-2 class as Leody Taveras, and has long intrigued with his tools and athleticism, but frustrated with his inconsistency and failure to have any sort of extended offensive success.
He’s someone I’ve kept an eye on because the outfield defense is legit and he’s someone scouts have said could have it all click at some point, and at the start of the season, he had just turned 22, which is age-appropriate for high-A.
He then was awful out of the gate, slashing .125/.163/.250 in 43 plate appearances in May before landing on the injured list or the inactive list or something. Anyway, he was out of the lineup for almost three weeks, and I at that point pretty much wrote him off.
Since returning to the lineup in early June, though, Aparicio has been terrific. In 97 plate appearances over 25 games since he was activated on June 9, he is slashing .333/.448/.679, with 14 walks against 20 strikeouts. For the season, Aparicio is slashing .263/.360/.534 in 140 plate appearances. That’s good for anyone — but it is especially good from someone considered a plus defensive center fielder.
Now, I’m not ready to jump on the Miguel Aparicio bandwagon yet. He’s shown flashes before, then struggled. A month from now we might be looking at his numbers and mocking the idea that anyone thought he might be added to the 40 man roster this offseason.
But he’s put himself on the radar, and I’m pretty sure that he is, like Curtis Terry and Jacob Lemoine, a free agent after the season if he’s not added to the 40 man roster, which also factors in.
Moving on to the 40 man roster...the Rangers currently have 48 players who are on the 40 man roster, including 60 day injured list guys.
Five of those players — Brock Holt, Charlie Culberson, Jordan Lyles, Spencer Patton* and Ian Kennedy — will be free agents. That drops the 40 man roster down to 43.
* Patton technically doesn’t have enough service time to be an automatic major league free agent, but just about every veteran who signs from overseas has a clause that exempts them from the reserve clause when they come to the United States and sign a free agent deal.
David Dahl and Mike Foltynewicz are guys who are still arb-eligible but are potential non-tenders, depending on how they perform the second half of the season. Dahl likely hits the waiver wire if he doesn’t start hitting. Foltynewicz, on the other hand, is someone who could stick on the roster until the non-tender deadline, while the Rangers see how the pitching market shapes up this winter and if he’s worth keeping at his likely arb price for depth or as a back of the rotation guy.
Joely Rodriguez has a $3 million club option for 2022 with a $500,000 buyout. He could be traded this month, but if he’s not, I would think the option would be picked up — $2.5M is relatively cheap — but that’s not a guarantee.
We have four players who are almost certain to hit the waiver wire by the end of the season: Ronald Guzman, John Hicks, Hunter Wood and Matt Bush.
That leaves us with anywhere from 36 to 39 players still on the 40 man roster, depending on what you do with Dahl, Folty and Joely. The Rangers will probably need to clear ten to twelve spots for Rule 5 guys being protected this offseason and potential free agent signings.
So who is safe and who could be gone?
There are two players who are in their own category — Kyle Gibson and Joey Gallo. They are guys who could be dealt this July, or this offseason. Well, yeah, anyone could be traded possibly — but they are guys who are veterans who have a year of control left after this year who are rumored to be in demand and that the Rangers are listening on. So just put an asterisk by them and lets move on with the 34 players on the 40 man we haven’t already discussed.
Here’s who I think, as of now, is safe, no questions asked:
That’s 18 players. Gallo and Gibson make 20. If we are going to earmark 10-12 spots for players to be added to the 40 man roster this offseason and for potentially one or more of the Dahl/Folty/Joely triumvirate, that leaves us with as few as five and as many as ten roster spots remaining for everyone else currently on the 40 man roster.
Here are the 16 players on the 40 man roster not in one of the categories above:
Now, they aren’t all equally likely to be jettisoned. I am not meaning to suggest that, say, Nick Solak is as likely to lose his 40 man spot as Jason Martin. But these are the guys you’re going to have to sort through and decide who you keep and who you trade, waive, or non-tender.
Here’s how I’d categorize them.
Probably safe guys who have been here a while
Nick Solak, Willie Calhoun, Taylor Hearn, Demarcus Evans
These are players who have been with the organization a while, who have some major league time, and who maybe haven’t lived up to expectations, but who I think the Rangers like enough and have seen enough flashes from to give some more rope to. These are the guys I’d say are the safest on this list.
Auditioning position player depth
Jason Martin, Andy Ibanez
Martin and Ibanez are still relatively young, they have options remaining, they could be useful. Teams need guys who can be shuffled up and down between AAA and the majors when needed. Sometimes those shuffle guys turn into something more, and there’s always the possibility that happens with Martin or Ibanez — see, e.g., Adolis Garcia. Sometimes they just rack up a lot of frequent flier miles.
I expect that the Rangers will be evaluating Ibanez and Martin going forward, whether they are in the majors or in the minors, an determining where they fall in the pecking order in regards to the roster situation. How valuable are they as depth if someone gets injured and they have to be called up? How likely is it they will take a step forward and establish themselves as something more than an up-and-down guy?
Martin and Ibanez are guys who could survive the first round of cuts at the end of the season, only to be non-tendered in December. Or they could make it past early December only to land on the waiver wire in January or February when the Rangers sign someone to a major league deal and need a roster spot. Or they could stick it out to spring training, only to wind up on the waiver wire right before Opening Day when the Rangers need to add someone to the Opening Day roster. Or they could make it all the way to April...and be optioned to Round Rock, to resume their role as optionable and recallable AAA depth.
Auditioning pitch staff depth
Joe Barlow, Wes Benjamin, Dennis Santana, Josh Sborz, Tyler Phillips
These are pitchers who have shown enough to be added to the 40 man roster, and other than Phillips, have gotten major league innings this year, but haven’t shown enough to solidify their hold on a 40 man roster spot. Everything I wrote above about Ibanez and Martin applies to this group. This group will, I suspect, be closely evaluated the rest of the way, as the organization weighs their upside potential, the likelihood they will establish themselves as solid major league contributors, the value they offer as depth, their option situation.
The injured pitchers
Brock Burke, Joe Palumbo, Kyle Cody
Three guys with major league experience, who were highly regarded pitching prospects, but whose careers have been impacted by a number of injuries. The Rangers had high hopes for all three pitchers, and there is still, I’m sure, hope that if they can get healthy and stay on the mound for an extended time they can produce.
I’d say all three of these pitchers are candidates to be non-tendered in December with an eye towards being re-signed to a minor league deal. Any of them could also be providing meaningful, quality innings in the majors before the 2021 season is up. Or any of them could end up going unclaimed on waivers in November. Its a mystery.
The odd sock drawer
Anderson Tejeda, Kohei Arihara
Anderson Tejeda is a quality defensive shortstop with big time power and major swing and miss issues. He’s currently in Frisco, having started the season in AAA, and having spent a brief time in the majors with the Rangers when injuries meant they needed a body. He’s not hit at all this year. He also just turned 23 and has enticing tools. I don’t expect the Rangers to move on from Tejeda, but I am not 100% on that.
Kohei Arihara is on a two year deal, having been signed from Japan. He was bad this year and then needed surgery. I would think the Rangers would activate him from the injured list, run him through waivers, and outright him once the season is over, but really, I am not sure what they’ll do.