With Spring Training fast approaching, MLB.com takes a look at a different aspect of this year's Rangers squad each day this week. Today's topic: Predicting the 25-man roster.ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have 58 players coming to Spring Training, which will include Mike Napoli, even though his contract has not been
With Spring Training fast approaching, MLB.com takes a look at a different aspect of this year's Rangers squad each day this week. Today's topic: Predicting the 25-man roster.
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have 58 players coming to Spring Training, which will include Mike Napoli, even though his contract has not been made official.
He replaces Prince Fielder, who is on the 40-man roster but is expected to go on the 60-day disabled list once camp opens.
That group doesn't include players still to be added, even if only on Minor League contracts. The Rangers often add players even after Spring Training officially begins, as they did with Ian Desmond and Jeremy Guthrie last year and Neal Cotts in 2013.
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The Rangers are never done tinkering, but when they finally get to Opening Day, they will have to settle on a 25-man roster. Here is what that could look like:
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Catcher (2): Jonathan Lucroy, Robinson Chirinos
This position is locked down. Lucroy is the starter, and Chirinos is the backup. Brett Nicholas is the first line of defense against injury, although he could conceivably push Chirinos for the backup job.
First base (1): Napoli
He isn't coming back to play left field again. Veteran James Loney is in camp on a non-roster invite, but the job belongs to Napoli.
Second base (1): Rougned Odor
Odor is a potential All-Star. Jurickson Profar was once the Rangers' second baseman of the future, but almost nobody is interested in debating if he is better than Odor.
Shortstop (1): Elvis Andrus
Andrus will be making his ninth straight Opening Day start for the Rangers. The record is 11 straight by Hall of Fame catcher Ivan Rodriguez.
Third base (1): Adrian Beltre
All right, you knew that one. Will Middlebrooks is in camp on a non-roster invite and could possibly stick as a right-handed hitter off the bench. Joey Gallo will also be given another hard look, although it seems Triple-A is the destination for him.
Utility (2): Profar, Ryan Rua
The Rangers love Profar's versatility, and he will serve as one utility player. The Rangers have multiple options for the final spot on the bench, but Rua's versatility is another huge asset for the Rangers.
Designated hitter (1): Josh Hamilton
This spot depends on what Hamilton has left after missing all of last season while recovering from knee surgery. If he can't go, the spot is wide open with Loney, Middlebrooks and Travis Snider all in play.
Outfield (4): Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Gomez, Nomar Mazara, Delino DeShields
The Rangers appear to be set with Mazara in left, Gomez in center and Choo in right. But Choo could get a significant number of at-bats at DH, especially if Hamilton isn't in the picture. That could open an opportunity for DeShields, Profar, Rua or Snider, who is in camp on a non-roster invite. DeShields is the likely fourth outfielder, if he doesn't force his way into the starting lineup.
Starting rotation (5): Cole Hamels, Yu Darvish, Martin Perez, Andrew Cashner, A.J. Griffin
The first four spots are set with Hamels, Darvish, Perez and Cashner. Tyson Ross is expected to start the season on the disabled list, leaving the fifth spot open for now. Griffin is the leading candidate but will get competition from Nick Martinez, Dillon Gee, Tyler Wagner, Chi Chi Gonzalez and Mike Hauschild, the Rule 5 pick from the Astros.
Bullpen (7): Sam Dyson, Matt Bush, Jeremy Jeffress, Keone Kela, Tony Barnette, Tanner Scheppers, Alex Claudio
Dyson is the closer, with Bush, Jeffress, Kela and Barnette back as the right-handed setup men. Scheppers could join them if he can rebound from three years of injuries. Claudio is the Rangers' best left-handed setup reliever. The final spot in the seven-man bullpen could be another left-hander -- Andrew Faulkner, Dario Alvarez or Wesley Wright -- or a long reliever from one of the rotation candidates.
T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.