Only a few roster spots were up for grabs when the Texas Rangers rolled into the Surprise Recreation Campus last month, and that hasn’t changed with only a handful of days left before the club heads east.
Decision day for the Opening Day roster could be Saturday, though a few could be made before then. Willie Calhoun, one of those on the roster bubble, hopes that he doesn’t have to wait too much longer to learn his fate.
He’s either going to be on the Rangers’ bench or playing every day for Triple A Nashville. If it’s the latter, which won’t set well with him, he wants some extra time to find a place to live.
The Rangers were scheduled to play a night game Monday, giving club brass an extra amount of player-free time in the morning to further discuss which direction they will go for their 2019 lid-lifter March 28.
Here’s what could be the final roster projection of the spring, with the lone caveat being some front-office indecision that lingers into next week.
There are some meaningful changes from a week ago.
Starting rotation (5)
LHP Mike Minor, RHP Edinson Volquez, RHP Lance Lynn, LHP Drew Smyly, RHP Shelby Miller
The members of the rotation haven’t changed all spring. However, the order changes here after manager Chris Woodward said over the weekend that the Rangers are discussing putting Volquez ahead of Lynn so that the three Tommy John pitchers aren’t pitching in a row.
RHPs Jose Leclerc (closer), Shawn Kelley, Zach McAllister, Jesse Chavez, Chris Martin and Connor Sadzeck, and LHP Jeffrey Springs.
The sense here is that the Rangers will still go with a seven-man bullpen despite the elbow injury to Yohander Mendez. They could take Jason Hammel as a long man to preserve their rotation depth, but Woodward said that can be addressed in other ways. Springs still looks like the front-runner to be the left-hander in the bullpen, but Brett Martin and Kyle Bird aren’t far behind him.
Jeff Mathis, Isiah Kiner-Falefa
The only way this changes before Opening Day is an injury or a kidnapping.
1B Ronald Guzman, 2B Rougned Odor, 3B Asdrubal Cabrera, SS Elvis Andrus, 1B-3B Matt Davidson, UTIL Logan Forsythe.
Forsythe returns to the roster projection after being swapped out last week with Danny Santana, who can play shortstop but hasn’t been as impressive as Forsythe. This would leave the Rangers without a left-handed bat off the bench, but that’s probably not the end of the world. Forsythe will play first base in a game this week, something he has done sparingly in his career but without any issues. Davidson continues to hold a roster spot despite a slump at the plate. The Rangers seem genuinely intrigued by his ability to be a quasi-eighth reliever.
CF Delino DeShields, LF Joey Gallo, RF Nomar Mazara, LF/RF Hunter Pence, DH/RF Shin-Soo Choo
The conversation no one with the Rangers seems to want to have seems to be the one they’re going to be required to have. Calhoun’s roster chances don’t look very good. Even Woodward said so over the weekend. If Joey Gallo’s injured right groin is worse than expected or becomes worse after he tests it, Calhoun’s chances improve but don’t make him a lock. The Rangers wouldn’t have a backup center fielder at that point and might have to go with Santana, who can play center in addition to shortstop.
If the Rangers want a lefty hitter on the bench, they could keep Calhoun and keep only one extra infielder. A trade would also open a spot. Forget about dealing Choo. How about Pence, who has played well enough to merit regular playing time? The San Francisco Giants, his old team, want to acquire a veteran righty-hitting outfielder. That won’t happen either.