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Contract decisions for Friday’s tender deadline

Friday, November 17, is the deadline for teams to tender contracts to players on the 40 man roster

Texas Rangers v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Friday, November 17, is the deadline for teams to tender contracts to players on the 40 man roster who do not currently have a contract for the 2024 season. Any player whose team does not tender them a contract by Friday at 6 p.m. Central time becomes a free agent.

We tend to refer to this as the non-tender deadline for arbitration-eligible players, since 1) it is primarily arbitration-eligible players who teams think are not worth what they will receive in arbitration who end up not being tendered a contract and 2) we refer to the players who become free agents this way as being non-tendered. However, players who are not arbitration eligible can be non-tendered, as well.

As we discussed last month, there are ten players who are on the Rangers’ 40 man roster right now who are arbitration-eligible. Those players are, in order of projected 2024 salary:

Nathaniel Lowe

Adolis Garcia

Jonah Heim

Dane Dunning

Leody Taveras

Matt Bush

Jonathan Hernandez

Brett Martin

Brock Burke

Josh Sborz

Of those ten, Bush is the only player I expect to be non-tendered. He will most likely then be re-signed to a minor league contract by the Rangers, and come to camp as a non-roster invitee.

The only three other players in this group I see as possibly being non-tendered are Hernandez, Martin and Burke. However, their projected salaries are all between $1.1 million and $1.3 million, so a non-tender would be more about creating a 40 man roster spot than saving money.

Martin would seem the most likely of the three to be dropped, since he is coming off surgery and has just one year of team control remaining. Burke and Hernandez are both coming off of very disappointing seasons, but they both have three years of team control remaining. Burke, in addition, was very good in 2022, while Hernandez finished 2023 strong.

As noted above, players not yet eligible for arbitration can also be non-tendered. When a team does this, it is generally in order to remove the player from the 40 man roster without exposing them to waivers, and the risk that another team might claim them. That allows the non-tendering team to re-sign the player, generally to a minor league deal. The Rangers have an extensive history of doing that.

Adding four players to the 40 man roster yesterday means that the Rangers’ 40 man roster currently stands at 37. Non-tendering Bush would drop it to 36, and the Rangers will be able to clear out a 40 man roster spot when spring training starts and Jacob deGrom can be placed on the 60 day injured list. However, the Rangers might wish to open up another 40 man roster spot or two for expected offseason additions, potential waiver claims, or just having those spots available if/when a player on a minor league deal ends up on the Opening Day roster.

If so, I see two guys as the most likely pre-arb non-tender candidates on the 40 man roster — Yerry Rodriguez and Jake Latz. Rodriguez is out of options, so if he remains on the 40 man roster, he will have to either make the major league roster out of spring training, placed on the major league injured list, or be put on waivers. He has struggled in brief opportunities in the majors, and had a disappointing year at AAA Round Rock. Given the choice between non-tendering him now and looking to re-sign him or carrying him on the 40 man roster and likely putting him on waivers in the next few months, the non-tender may be the way to go.

Latz is in a different situation. A lefty reliever who turns 28 in April, Latz had a good, but not great, season at Round Rock out of the bullpen and was added to the major league roster late in the year to provide bullpen depth due to injuries. He has all three options remaining, making it more likely he would be claimed if he was put on waivers than Rodriguez. He would be a riskier non-tender, unless the Rangers agreed to a bonus or other financial incentives to re-sign if he becomes a free agent, as there is a greater possibility than with Yerry that a team would offer him a major league deal.