The Texas Rangers Opening Day roster is just about put together.
Manager Chris Woodward announced on Saturday that RHP Josh Sborz has made the team, as well as Ronald Guzmán and Nate Lowe.
Guzmán and Lowe had been battling for the everyday spot at first base to begin the season. Part of Woodward’s announcement revealed that Lowe will get “the bulk of the at-bats” at first base, while Guzmán will fill a reserve role as a backup first baseman, corner outfielder, and designated hitter.
In addition to the players who made the Opening Day roster, there were some official roster moves announced by the Rangers:
- INF Anderson Tejeda has been optioned to Triple-A Round Rock
- INF Andy Ibáñez has been assigned to the alternate training site and will not be on the Opening Day roster
- C Drew Butera was released and re-signed to a new minor league contract
- RHP Nick Vincent has been released from his minor league deal, but the club hopes to re-sign him to a minor league deal
With the roster moves and decisions that have been made, here is how the Opening Day roster is shaping up before the Rangers head back to Arlington on Sunday:
Position Players (12)
- Catchers: Jose Trevino, Jonah Heim
- Infielders: Nate Lowe, Nick Solak, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Rougned Odor, Brock Holt*, Ronald Guzmán
- Outfielders: David Dahl, Joey Gallo, Leody Taveras, Eli White
* - non-roster invitee
Unless the Rangers decide to change course, there will be one more spot for a position player. The final two players that seem to have the best chance are Charlie Culberson and Adolis García. Both are much needed right-handed bats, but provide very different skill sets.
Culberson doesn't provide a ton of pop at the plate, but does bring a high level of versatility in the field. On the other hand, García is primarily a corner outfielder, and could play center field if needed, but brings a much bigger threat with the bat. He has torn up Cactus League pitching for the entirety of the spring, which has him in the mix in the eleventh hour.
Both are non-roster invitees, so a subsequent roster move would be required to add either one.
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We have yet to hear how Woodward plans to share the at-bats at first base and center field. Even when asked on Saturday about third base, Woodward had not mentioned either Odor over Holt. Same goes for center field between Taveras and White. Those decisions — if announced at all — may come down to the two exhibition games in Arlington next week.
- Starters: RHP Kyle Gibson, RHP Mike Foltynewicz, RHP Kohei Arihara
- 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
Woodward mentioned talk about a possible 14-man pitching staff, which would change everything about Culberson and García.
Regardless, Ian Kennedy and Matt Bush were the most recent additions to the bullpen, Chris Woodward confirmed after Saturday's loss to Oakland. Both are non-roster invitees, so it's not official until the Rangers can make subsequent roster moves. However, Jonathan Hernández and José Leclerc will likely begin the season on the 60-day Injured List, which would will make room for both of them.
If the Rangers do employ a 14-man staff, there are three likely candidates: Hunter Wood, Hyeon-jong Yang, or Luis Ortiz. All three have had impressive performances this spring in their own right. Though they are all non-roster invitees, they are in the same boat as Culberson and García. A 40-man roster move would have to be made.
In my humble (and sometimes wrong) opinion, I have a hard time believing the Rangers will go with a 14-man staff. Brett Martin and Joely Rodríguez are getting closer to full health and are not far behind. Martin will likely come back during the first homestand of the season. But I've been wrong before, and I'll be wrong again.
Ultimately, everything comes down to one final spot. Do the Rangers go with the versatile veteran? The up-and-coming slugger? Another gun in the bullpen? We'll find out in the next couple of days.