Tuesday newsletter time: Time is on Rangers’ side as they pursue final roster additions
(AP photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
The Rangers are fewer than 30 days from the first spring workout for pitchers and catchers Feb. 15, and just more than 30 away from the first full-squad workout Feb. 20.
Not all that long ago teams wanted to go to camp with their full roster. They still do, but in recent years more and more players have signed after spring training has started (it seems like most of them did last year because of the lockout).
The point here is the Rangers don’t need to be in a rush to add players. Nor do fans need to fret, at least not yet, that the holes that are left on the roster won’t be filled.
Think of it this way: It’s the fourth quarter and the Rangers have all of their timeouts remaining.
The Rangers didn’t fill a hole Sunday night when they announced they had signed outfielder/first baseman Yoshi Tsutsugo to a minor-league deal with a camp invite. He is the second confirmed non-roster invitee, along with outfielder/first baseman Joe McCarthy.
They have reportedly signed catcher Sandy Leon and right-hander Zack Littrell to minor-league deals, too.
More signings like that are coming, including, probably, after camp has started.
If the Rangers are going to sign anyone to major-league deals, they will have to create a 40-man spot. Should they trade for help, they would likely attempt to trade a player or two on the 40-man to create some room.
There are still a lot of moving pieces, and there’s still a lot of time to get the roster put together.
Every spring training, without fail, one of stories that fixates the beat writers is who will be on the bench to start the season.
One spot is a given, the backup catcher. Two more usually go to a utility infielder who can play shortstop and an extra outfielder who can play center field. The last spot on the bench is free-for-all, though it usually goes to a fifth outfielder.
That’s not the case with the Rangers.
They might not need a true utility man because second baseman Marcus Semien can play shortstop. Also vying for the roster is Josh Smith, who could find himself in a platoon in left field while also serving as a backup shortstop.
Bubba Thompson and Adolis Garcia can play center field.
The Rangers could, theoretically, go with a third catcher if Mitch Garver’s throwing is limited, though catching coordinator Bobby Wilson said on the Rangers Today Baseball Podcast (embed below) that Garver is throwing and should be good to go by Opening Day.
But if Garver and Jonah Heim are going to be the designated hitter on the days they don’t catch, the Rangers might not need a catcher on the bench.
Then, there’s Brad Miller. He can play left field, first base and third base. Actually, the only two positions he hasn’t played in his career are catcher and pitcher. He signed a two-year deal last spring and is owed $4 million this season.
He was injured much of the 2022 season, when his numbers lagged.
The Rangers officials who liked him last spring when he signed are still in place. He’s figures to take one of the roster spots, with the Rangers still developing young players who might be better served getting at-bats in the minors than riding the pine.
Miller, a left-handed hitter, could be part of a platoon in left field with Thompson. Maybe it’s a Thompson-Smith platoon, or maybe Miller and Mark Mathias.
A reader reminded me that Mathias was pretty good after the Rangers got him in the Matt Bush deal at the trade deadline. He doesn’t have much big-league experience, but he can play multiple positions and has 2,116 plate appearances in the minors.
That’s a lot.
The versatility of Miller and Garcia could make a bench of Miller, Mathias, Smith and Thompson possible. Maybe throw Ezequiel Duran in there for Smith.
Don’t worry. There will be a lot more bench talk once spring training starts.
The latest from Rangers Today sources is that there’s nothing new on the Bryan Reynolds trade front, at least as it involves the Rangers. They aren’t the only team interested in the Pittsburgh outfielder.
The Pirates are seeking too much for their third-best player in 2022 who played to a 2.9 bWAR. He is a 4.5 bWAR player over a 162-game average.
The Rangers are feeling out other teams to see if they have a left fielder available. The free-agent pool continues to shrink, with Trey Mancini coming off the board.
The internal platoon discussed above is a possibility, too.
“Those aren’t pillows!” Enjoy.
Deez pillows are comfy 😴💤😂 pic.twitter.com/bmzNqiuLLk
— Hold My Beer/Holy Cow (@short_tymer) January 16, 2023
Jeff Wilson, firstname.lastname@example.org