As I write this, Game 7 of the World Series was last night (Congrats Nationals!). Now that the season is formally over, I started thinking about the 2020 roster, and thought I’d take a few minutes and jot down some thoughts on the various players on the roster, and what I think will happen with them. I’m going to break them down into groups of players – not by position, but by their contractual status.
So I went down the roster, and looked at everyone on it, and had some comments on each player (although towards the end, I cheated and lumped several of the bullpen guys together).
Before I get into the players, one thing I want to bring up. 2020 has new rules for the venerable 25 man roster. Prior to 2020, the regular in season rosters have been 25 guys on the major league club at once. If you had to play a doubleheader, you were allowed a 26th man (almost usually a pitcher) to help with roster issues relative to doubleheaders. However, this changes in 2020. The basic roster will now be 26 players, with a 27th allowed for doubleheaders. Also, the era of September callus is over. No longer can you bring up all 40 guys on your 40 man roster if you wanted to. After August 31st, you’ll be limited to 28 players. Also, the 28 man roster in September will be mandatory. All teams will have to carry 28 in September, so there will still be callups, just not as many, and certainly not all at the same time.
I say all that, because we will be allowed to have an extra player. With some of the position battles, it will likely affect our roster composition in 2020. Speaking of 2020, here’s the players from the 2019 roster, and what I think…
These guys are already signed for 2020 (some beyond). Unless traded, they’ll be here.
- Shin-Soo Choo: Signed through 2020 ($20m).
I’ve always liked Choo. He was initially sluggish when he got here, but turned it around, and his offense has never bothered me. His defense isn’t as good, but it’s not like he’s awful. At this point, he is blocking some younger guys, so I think he’s a prime target to be traded. He’s also well known for being a good clubhouse guy, and you always need them, too. Has limited no trade protection.
- Elvis Andrus: Signed through 2022 (w/2023 option – 20: $15m, 21: $14m, 22: $14m, 23: $15m team option)
He had a bad year last year due to being hurt for awhile – something he never seemed to recover from later in the season. The undisputed team leader. Went from Michael Young to Adrian Beltre to Elvis Andrus. He’ll be here in 2020 for sure. He technically has a second opt-out this offseason, and while much has been said in the press about him staying, I do not believe he’s formally notified the team of the decision as of now. Also, his 2023 team option becomes guaranteed if he gets 550 plate appearances in 2022, or 1,100 plate appearances in 2021-2022 combined.
- Mike Minor: Signed through 2020 ($9.5m)
Was the subject of an insane amount of trade talk this past summer. I sat on the side of the fence that I’d like to KEEP him vs trade him. You’d trade a guy who is GOOD NOW for 2-3 guys who MIGHT be good later? I’d like to keep him. He’s an insane bargain in 2020 as well. I’d like to give him a three year extension. Won’t be this cheap, though. Has limited no trade protection.
- Lance Lynn: Signed through 2021 (20: $10m, 21: $8m, also due $1m in signing bonus in 202o)
Was a big surprise in 2020. I thought he had a real shot at 20 wins last year, until our offense stopped supporting him for awhile there. I doubt he’s going anywhere.
- Rougned Odor: Signed through 2022 (w/2023 option – 20: $9m, 21:$12M, 22:$12M, 23:$13.5M club option ($3M buyout))
Here’s the tough one. So many people wanted him run out of town, I could have sworn I was seeing people arriving at The Temple with pitchforks to do it. They’re probably the same people that wanted to run Gallo out of town, and they wouldn’t do that now. What to do with Odor? Obscenely low batting average in the last two years, but he’s still delivering in other ways. He had 30HR and 91RBI in 2019. Those aren’t bad numbers at all. He has a major perception problem, and we’re not just giving him away for a bag of beans, and we’re not cutting him. You also can’t send him to the minors, his contractual status prevents that without his permission (which you know he won’t give). The way I think it will go down is he’ll go into Spring 2020 without a job to lose. He’ll have to play well enough to earn it. But if we get too far into 2020 with no appreciable changes in batting average and other metrics, then you might make a move. I think it’s a lock he’s on the 25 man roster on opening day, though. How far after that is up to him this time.
- Jose LeClerc: Signed through 2022 (w/2023 & 2024 options – 20:$2.25m, 21:$4m, 22:$4.75m, 23:$6m club option ($0.75M buyout), 24:$6.25M club option ($0.5M buyout)
LeClerc was the team’s starter at the start of 2019, and he pitched himself out of that. Not the first Rangers closer of recent vintage to do that thing (Shawn Tolleson & Sam Dyson). He did improve after being removed from the role, and had seemingly regained it towards the end of the season. Still seemed a bit shaky. However, when he’s on, he’s still amazing. He’ll be here for sure, but as to what part he’ll serve in the pen, I don’t know.
- Jesse Chavez: Signed through 2020 ($4m)
He was one of those rare players that two seasons ago we traded away, and then in the last offseason he signed back here for two years, the second of those is 2020. He’s never going to be a guy who lights up the gun or wows you – he’s a steady veteran who is pretty serviceable at most times. He can also do a spot start as needed, given he used to be a starter.
- Jeff Mathis: Signed through 2020 ($3m)
Mathis was NEVER going to be the next coming of Pudge. He was a veteran catcher whose reason for being here was being a good defender behind the plate. He’s very old school in that regard, since catchers of the past were “be a good catcher, any offense is a bonus”. That’s what he did. He signed for two years, 2020 being the second. The emergence of Jose Trevino probably means that in 2021, Trevino will be the #1 guy and perhaps someone new. I doubt Mathis is here past 2020, however.
These guys have contracts with team options for 2020. It’s totally up to the team to choose to retain them, or cut them loose for the agreed to dollar amount.
- Shawn Kelley: $2.5m option (w/ $350k buyout)
IMO, this is a no brainer. You need bullpen pieces, and Kelly was a good one this past year. I can’t comprehend why we wouldn’t pick this up, unless it’s something I’m unaware of. Also, if I’m not mistaken, Kelley has said if we don’t pick up his contract, he’s going to retire.
- Nate Jones: 20:$3.75M club option, 21:$4.25M club option – buyout of $1.25M if an option is declined
Now Nate is an odd beast. We traded for him, and he went immediately onto the 60 day DL. I don’t have a handle on this one because he’s basically an unknown. If you look up his stats, he’s not that bad, so we could retain him, but I truly don’t know how this will go one way or the other.
UPDATE: As I was finishing this article, the news dropped that we’re not picking up the options on either of these. Jones I’m not surprised about at all, but I am about Shawn Kelley. I thought that was a dead lock to be picked up. Additionally, on Oct 31st, they traded with the White Sox for a catcher named Wellington Castillo who had a team option, and then immediately declined it, so there’s that. They did that to get extra International slot money.
Rangers have officially declined 2020 contract options on RHPs Shawn Kelley and Nate Jones and C Wellington Castillo making them free agents. Also RHP Phillips Valdez was claimed off waivers by Seattle. Roster at 34.— John Blake (@RangerBlake) November 1, 2019
These guys will be Rangers in 2020, but what they will be paid is up in the air – that’s what the arbitration process is. Famously, the Rangers have always reached deals with these guys, and haven’t gone to an actual arbitration hearing since Lee Stevens in 2000. So I suspect these guys will work it out, too. :) There is always the option that the Rangers could non tender them contracts, which would release them and make them free agents. But the bulk of these guys will be back, IMO.
- Joey Gallo: 2019 Salary: $605,500 (Arb Eligible in 20, 21, 22 – Full FA in 23)
The only real key here is do they just give him a huge bump in arbitration dollars, or sign him long term. The latter will eventually happen, and the Rangers don’t have to do that until after the 2022 season. My guess is another arb dollar bump this year ($3m?), perhaps a long term deal later.
- Nomar Mazara: 2019 Salary: $3.3m (Arb Eligible in 20 & 21, FA in 22)
He’ll also be re-signed, but I don’t see them offering him a long term deal until his production stabilizes – he didn’t take the jump they were expecting in 2019, so he’ll need to prove himself before he gets the longer contract. My guess for 2020: $5m.
- Danny Santana: 2019 Salary: $3.9m (Arb eligible in 20 & 21, FA in 22)
A lot of people saw Santana as the heir apparent when they were grabbing their pitchforks on Odor. But Santana is not a “young guy who will be there for years”. He was a journeyman. Most people forget Texas was his third team in three years (MIN/ATL/TEX 17-19), and he’s been in the majors since 2014. Same year as Odor. Santana is also three years OLDER than Odor (he’s 28), so while not OLD, he’s not some young kid, either. Having said all that he had an amazing year in 2019. I hope it’s a trend, and not an aberration. He’ll be here. But how much the Rangers value what happened in 2019 will dictate his 2020 salary. My guess is he gets close to the same $3.9 in 2020.
- Delino DeShields Jr: 2019 Salary: $1.4m (Arb eligible in 20 & 21, FA in 22)
He’s a guy we WANT to get it together. He’s an average hitter, plus defender, but with a weak arm. However, I think he could be a good CF solution if he could just be more consistent. The couple of times I thought he was turning the corner on that, he’s gotten hurt, so staying on the field is a thing for him too. He’ll be here, but whether he’s the starting CF or not is up in the air. I think a lot of that depends on whether they move Choo out or not. My guess is he gets a $2m salary in 2020.
- Rafael Montero: 2019 Salary: $555,000 (I think – arb eligible in 20, 21, & 22, FA in 23)
He pitched in 34 games for the Rangers in 2019. Oddly enough, despite that I remember Dave Martinez from 38 games in 2000 with us, more than Montero. That’s on me. I can look up his numbers and see how he did, but I oddly don’t remember his performances, which is unusual for me. He was kind of “eh”, though. 119IP, 141H, 75R, and 67BB. His WHIP was 1.748. They’ll probably re-sign him for 2020, but not to a guaranteed spot. He’s got a fourth year of arbitration (2022), which doesn’t usually happen. My guess is a token increase over his 2019 salary, I’m guessing $600,000?
- Jesse Biddle: 2019 Salary: $555,000 (I think – arb eligible in 20, 21, 22, & 23 – FA in 24)
If you don’t remember Biddle, don’t be too surprised. We traded for him in July, then he pitched four games for us, all between Jul 2 & Jul 14. If he stays, he’s probably the same as Montero, a token increase. My guess is however that he’ll be squeezed out once we start having to make roster moves for the 40 man roster to protect guys from the Rule 5 draft. UPDATE: As I was finishing this article the news dropped that he was activated from the 60 day DL and outrighted to AAA.
These are guys whose contracts ended when the 2019 season did, so are officially free agents at this point:
- Edinson Volquez – Finished the second year of his two year contract. The first year was 100% spent on the disabled list. The second year was mostly there, too. Total of 11 games pitched in 2019. Two right at the start of the season, then he was hurt – bad. He almost retired, but rehabbed, and made 9 appearances in September. He’s widely expected to retire now, although there was some noise at the end of the season, he might try and continue. Unknown if they’d want to try him here if he did.
- Logan Forsythe – He didn’t bother me – he played well when he played, which wasn’t much. He was frequently “Guy 25” on the roster, and as such started very rarely. I doubt he’ll be back, however. We have several guys who can play his role who are younger.
- Hunter Pence – speaking of “who are younger”, that brings us to Hunter Pence. A guy who had an amazing year, which would have been more amazing had he not broken down halfway through he season. He was elected to the All-Star game, and couldn’t play. Finished the season on the DL, but even with that, he still won Comeback Player of the Year. He is a fun guy to watch, to listen to, and most fans would love to bring him back. However, he wouldn’t start, and if he does come back, it’s unknown if he’d want to take the fourth outfielder position. Coin flip if he returns, although I’d like him to.
Then there’s the guys who are under team control. The way contracts work in the majors… Guys come up and have I believe it is six years of team control, where the team can decide their salary. After that, you have three years of arbitration (sometimes guys get four – not sure why), before finally becoming a free agent. That is of course unless the team decides they want to offer them a long term contract – which they always can, but that’s generally unlikely.
There’s a lot of guys who fall under this on the 40 man roster. Given it’s totally up to the team to set their salaries, I’m not going to get into what they made and what 2020 might be. I’ll just speak to whether I think they’ll be back…
- Willie Calhoun – What we got from trading Yu Darvish isn’t a player we’ll easily give up on. Seemed to make a major improvement in 2019, and I’d like to think he’s done with the minor leagues finally. What happens now depends on how he continues to grow. Not eligible for arbitration until 2022.
- Ronald Guzman – in his last year of team control for 2020 – first year of Arbitration is 2021. He’ll need to show a major improvement. Lock to be here for this season (in my opinion).
- Tim Federowicz – According to one list of players, he’s arbitration eligible, but then on another, he’s not. So I’m not sure there. Either way I’ll be surprised if he’s back. They’ll cut him loose, I’ll wager.
- Isiah Kiner-Falefa – Now that they have him off catching duties, they can pick a spot, but is there one regularly for him? Some talk of him playing at 3B, but nothing of note. He’ll be back, but where he plays is an unknown. His first year of arbitration is 2021.
- Nick Solak – Nick was major surprise this season. I don’t have much to say because I’m just wanting to see him to play. My gut feeling says he won’t be on the roster at the start of the season, but he won’t be far behind.
- Jose Trevino – Jose took a major leap forward in 2019, I think. While I’m not ready to brand him as the #1 guy, I do seriously think if we get another year in 2020 like we got in 2019, that might change. He’ll be the proper #2 guy in 2020 for sure, backing up Mathis. I’m also super excited about Jose’s future.
- Joe Palumbo – Joe is one of our biggest pitching prospects, and I can’t wait to see him progress. Doubt he opens the season with the big club, though.
- Ariel Jurado – Was in 32 games for us, 18 of them as a starter. Doesn’t have the best numbers, but still has potential. Depending on how camp goes, he could be in the rotation, have to see what happens in the spring here. His first year of arbitration is 2022.
- Brett Martin – Was one of our most used relievers – appeared in 51 games. Doesn’t have the most stellar numbers, but overall I don’t think did a bad job. Probably will be in the bullpen again in 2020.
- Adrian Sampson – Someone I saw a ton in 2019, as he appeared in 35 games with 15 starts. Pitched 125.1 innings, so he’s not an unknown. Like most young pitchers, he had ups and downs. More downs, but “That’s the way baseball go”. He’ll be in the mix for a starting role in camp, I’m sure. His first year of arbitration is 2021.
- Luke Farrell – One of our ton of bullpen pitchers. Was only in 9 games for us this year. Didn’t do too bad. 13.1 IP, 4 runs, ERA of 2.70, and WHIP of 0.675. He’s moved around a bit, was with the Royals, Reds, & Cubs in 2017-18. Unknown whether he’d come back, but his numbers imply he might be in camp. His first year of arbitration is 2022.
- Yohander Mendez – One guy who has for a few years now been talked about being a big prospect. He’s been up and down with the Rangers now for four seasons, but only pitching in a total of 20 games across all four years with his lowest ERA during this time being 5.11. Seems like a guy who hasn’t grasped the opportunity that he’s been given. Not sure what to make of him. He’s not eligible for arbitration till 2022.
- Jeffrey Springs – He had an ERA in the 3s last year, and in the 6s this year. That’s going in the wrong direction. He keeps getting called up, so they must see something in him, but I don’t see it. Whether he’s back probably depends on whether they bring in any better pieces, I think. His first year of arbitration is 2022.
- Scott Heineman – A minor league outfielder I really liked. Wanted him to get a look, and he did. Played in 25 games. Didn’t embarrass himself, but didn’t set the world on fire, either. Needs more time in the minors, I think.
- Kyle Bird – Another young arm in the pen. Appeared in 12 games with us in 2019. Not sure what to think, probably in the mix in camp, but an early sendout, too.
- Kolby Allard – We sent reliever Chris Martin to Atlanta for Kolby Allard, and given how deep Atlanta’s pitching staff is, this could be a real steal. I was quite excited about this deal, and nothing’s changed. He is under team control for quite awhile, and I’m really excited about him. I don’t know if he’ll be in the rotation in 2020, but if not, he’ll be one of the first called up when we need someone.
- Brock Burke – One of our good pitching prospects. Probably needs more minor league time. I doubt he’ll be up with the team at the start of the season.
- Emmanuel Clase – This guy seemingly came out of nowhere to me. Pitches about 150 miles per hour. I could easily see them including him in the pen simply due to the speed that he throws, but I think we need to see more before I’m totally on board. Unknown whether he’ll bet on the staff for Game 1.
- Ian Gibaut – 9 games in the majors with the Rangers. Another guy I don’t have much of a handle on.
- Zack Granite – On Oct 31, he was activated from the 60 day DL and outrighted to AAA.
- Taylor Guerreri, Taylor Hearn, Jonathan Hernandez, Wei-Chieh Huang, CD Pelham, Phillips Valdez, Zack Granite, Ian Gibaut – Lets face it. We used a lot of bullpen guys this year. I’m not sure what at this point I can say unique about them. Perhaps it’s a failing on my part, but I don’t have anything particularly unique to say about any of these. Taylor Hearn perhaps a little more than the others, but hopefully some of these guys pan out.
Also, Jon Daniels signed a multi year extension on June 7, 2018. It is unknown how many more years he has on that.
Finally, while he won’t play of course, 2020 is the final year that we pay for Prince Fielder. His official salary for 2020 is $24m. Detroit pays $6m of that as part of the original trade conditions, and we collect $9m from player insurance. The final $9m we’re on the hook for. this doesn’t really matter for the active roster, but he is still officially on the books. Normally that would require him be on the 40 man roster as well, but two off seasons ago, some deal was reached to allow him to not have to be on the 40 man roster, and we still collect insurance (which we wouldn’t do if we had taken him off).