ARLINGTON, Texas — Just one more exhibition game, and we'll have baseball games that count. With fans in attendance. No more canned fan noise. No more cardboard cutouts.
Is this real life?!
Yes it is. And while Texas Rangers fans are still waiting for reality to set in regarding the end of the Rougned Odor era, the club still has yet to finalize their Opening Day roster.
The Rangers have spent the past several days announcing roster decisions, bringing us to 25 known players on the 26-man roster for Opening Day:
Position Players (12)
- Catchers: Jose Trevino, Jonah Heim
- Infielders: Nate Lowe, Nick Solak, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Charlie Culberson*, Brock Holt*, Ronald Guzmán
- Outfielders: David Dahl, Joey Gallo, Leody Taveras, Eli White
- Starters: RHP Kyle Gibson, RHP Kohei Arihara, RHP Mike Foltynewicz
- Multi-innings: RHP Dane Dunning, RHP Jordan Lyles, LHP Taylor Hearn, LHP Wes Benjamin, LHP John King
- Bullpen: RHP Matt Bush*, RHP Ian Kennedy*, RHP Kyle Cody, RHP Brett de Geus**, RHP Josh Sborz
* - non-roster invitee
** - Rule 5 draft pick
If you noticed, there are four non-roster invitees already on the Opening Day roster. The Rangers currently have 39 players on the 40-man roster, so Brock Holt can fill the empty slot easily. Placing Jonathan Hernández and José Leclerc on the 60-day Injured List will create room for Bush and Kennedy in the bullpen. Then the Rangers will designate Odor for assignment to make room for Charlie Culberson.
Okay. So that takes care of the 25 players already committed to Opening Day. Now, about that 26th man...
"We're still working through a couple of things on the last spot," said Rangers general manager Chris Young. "I think there's the possibility that we may start the season with 14 pitchers. We're still working through, trying to figure out what's best as we go into the weekend with Kansas City and also getting through the first homestand as well."
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For what it's worth, manager Chris Woodward said in Tuesday's postgame Zoom call that management is still in the decision-making process, but they are leaning toward a 14th pitcher.
A 14th pitcher could help the Rangers get through the first few series while Brett Martin and Joely Rodríguez work their way back from injuries. The immediate candidates to would be Hunter Wood and Hyeon-jong Yang, with the contractual advantage going to the latter. The Rangers could option Yang later on, while they could not do the same with Wood.
If they do decide to go with a 13th position player, it would most likely be Adolis García, who arguably had the best performance during spring training. García fits the profile the Rangers need in a right-handed power bat.
However, the Rangers could look to the waiver wire to make any final additions to their 26-man roster ahead of Thursday morning's deadline.
In order to make room for a fifth non-roster player, the Rangers would have to make a subsequent roster move. One option could be moving Brock Burke to the 60-day IL, who is on the road back from major shoulder surgery in 2020.
If we've learned anything from the past few days, don't expect a lull between now and Thursday morning. With the way the past few days have gone, it would be surprising if the Rangers didn't pull off a surprising move at the last second.
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