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Rangers Officially Sign Kole Calhoun, Non-Tender Three Players

The Texas Rangers created room on their 40-man roster for their free agent haul ahead of Tuesday's tender deadline.

Tuesday night was Major League Baseball deadline for its clubs to tender contracts to their respective players. Any players who are not offered contracts—known as being "non-tendered"—automatically become free agents.

Prior to Tuesday's deadline, the Texas Rangers made their signing of Kole Calhoun to a one-year contract official. The 34-year-old outfielder will earn $5.2 million in 2022, and the deal comes with a club option of $5.5 million in 2023. There is no buyout required if the Rangers decline the aforementioned option.

"Kole plays with an energy that our fans and players will feed off of," said president of baseball operations Jon Daniels in a press release. "He’s been a highly productive player on both sides of the ball. Equally importantly, his style of play and reputation as a great teammate will help set the standard as we continue to grow our culture."

General manager Chris Young added: "We believe Kole will bring an outstanding veteran presence and example for our young players. He has worked hard for everything he's achieved in his career and his daily effort is a model for everyone surrounding our club."

The former Diamondback hit 33 home runs with the Los Angeles Angels in 2019 and posted a .864 OPS with Arizona in the truncated 2020 season. Multiple hamstring issues, including surgery in April, limited him to just 51 games in 2021.

In addition, the Rangers assigned outfielder DJ Peters outright to Triple-A Round Rock, and non-tendered catchers David Garcia and Yohel Pozo, along with outfielder Billy McKinney. It's very possible the Rangers could sign one or more of their three non-tendered players to minor league deals.

The decision to non-tender two catchers isn't surprising. Jose Trevino and Jonah Heim have both earned another look behind the dish, and the two were the best combination in baseball in pitch framing. In addition, Rangers No. 5 prospect Sam Huff could make a run at establishing himself in the big leagues in 2022.

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DJ Peters could be the victim of what's becoming a crowded outfield. The Rangers already added Kole Calhoun in free agency, and are still in the market to potentially add another. Peters displayed impressive raw athleticism, but only managed a .197/.242/.422/.663 slash line over his first 70 big league games in 2021.

Billy McKinney was recently acquired, along with outfielder Zach Reks, in a trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for cash. The decision to non-tender McKinney only eight days later confirms the suspicion that the trade was geared more toward adding Reks to the organization.

All four arbitration-eligible players—Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Willie Calhoun, Brett Martin and Taylor Hearn—were tendered contracts. The arbitration class is expected to earn a total of around $8.7 million, with Kiner-Falefa (in his second year of arbitration) expected to earn the highest salary of the group.

After this flurry of moves, there are 36 players on the Rangers 40-man roster. Three of those spots will be reserved for when the club is able to make their signings of Corey Seager, Marcus Semien and Jon Gray official.

As far as future roster moves for the Rangers, it is increasingly looking like Wednesday will be the final day to make any transactions for a while. MLB and the Players Association (MLBPA) are currently negotiating a new Collective Bargaining Agreement fervently in Irving, and the current CBA expires at 10:59 p.m. CST on Wednesday.

However, negotiations are not progressing quickly enough to provide any optimism that a new CBA will be agreed upon before that time. In turn, the owners are expected to lock out the players once the current CBA expires. A lockout would freeze any Major League transactions, meaning there can't be any trades of players on 40-man rosters or free-agent signings. Players won't be allowed to use their respective club's facilities and the Major League portion of next week's Winter Meetings in Orlando will be canceled.

It is possible the Rangers could make their signings of Seager, Semien and Gray official on Wednesday. As of Tuesday night, those deals are still pending physicals.

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