The Texas Rangers started shaping their roster for the 2018 season Tuesday when they announced that four players had cleared waivers and been assigned outright to Triple A Round Rock.
The moves created four openings on the 40-man roster, which will continue to be reshaped over the off-season as the Rangers address multiple needs.
Two of outrighted players, third baseman Will Middlebrooks and infielder Phil Gosselin, declined the outright assignments and are free agents. Right-hander Paulo Espino and outfielder Jared Hoying, though, remain in the organization.
Hoying was also outrighted after last season but agreed to return to the Rangers on a minor-league deal. He will have an opportunity to win a job on the Opening Day roster next spring, as the Rangers will be seeking at least one extra outfielder.
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A left-handed batter, he has shown power in the minors and has good speed and is solid defensively.
Espino pitched sparingly after being recalled in September, allowing four runs in 6 1/3 innings over six appearances. The Rangers claimed him off waivers Aug. 26 from Milwaukee.
The Rangers will see five more 40-man spots open at the beginning of free agency as first baseman Mike Napoli, outfielder Carlos Gomez and right-handers Andrew Cashner, Miguel Gonzalez and Jason Grilli hit the open market. A sixth spot would be created if the Rangers decline the $4 million option on righty reliever Tony Barnette.
The Rangers, though, will have to add two players on the 60-day disabled list — righty Chi Chi Gonzalez and infielder Hanser Alberto — back to the 40-man roster.
General manager Jon Daniels said that the Rangers are likely to add multiple players from the minors to keep them from being exposed to the Rule 5 draft. Among them will be catcher Jose Trevino.
The Rangers are expecting to go outside to organization to fill two of the three vacancies in their rotation, and they will also likely seek bullpen help via free agency or trades.