ARLINGTON -- Injuries to outfielder Willie Calhoun and catcher Robinson Chirinos and the Summer Camp emergence of Isiah Kiner-Falefa are among the complications before the Rangers set their 30-man Opening Day roster.
Also, the bullpen is in a state of flux for a variety of reasons.
Here’s a breakdown of the potential 30-man roster with a week to go before the season starts:
Chirinos is the No. 1 catcher, but the Rangers are concerned about his right ankle sprain. They are guardedly optimistic about him being ready for Opening Day. The Rangers are expected to carry three catchers at least while the rosters sit at 30 players. Trevino and Mathis have different assets to offer as a backup catcher. Trevino is young and athletic with more offensive potential. Mathis is excellent behind the plate in game-calling and ability to work with pitchers.
Kiner-Falefa will be on the team and is making a case to be an everyday player. If so, the best way to get him into the lineup is by playing him at third base and moving Frazier to first. Frazier has 97 career games at first base, and manager Chris Woodward said the veteran looks comfortable over there. Guzmán or Bird could provide late-inning defensive help. Bird is a non-roster invitee and could opt for free agency if he is not on the Opening Day roster.
Odor had a great spring in Arizona and has continued that in Summer Camp. The Rangers know he can be streaky but are relying on him heavily in the middle of the order. Solak is starting the season in left field while Calhoun is down, but he could step in at second if Odor goes into an offensive funk.
Andrus is the starting shortstop. Rivera has previous experience with the Brewers and Marlins, and is excellent defensively. The Rangers signed him as insurance in case of injury. Tejeda is the No. 8 prospect in the system but has yet to play above Class A Advanced.
Lock: Isiah Kiner-Falefa
Possibilities: Todd Frazier, Nick Solak
This is Frazier’s best position and the reason the Rangers signed him. But there is a bigger need to play him at first base, and this is also the best place to get either Kiner-Falefa or Solak in the lineup. Josh Jung, the top prospect in the Rangers’ system, and Sherten Apostel, rated No. 10 by MLB Pipeline, are both in camp for the experience.
Calhoun is the Rangers’ left fielder but will not be ready for Opening Day because of a right hip flexor strain. He is not expected to miss much time, but Woodward said Solak will start in left while Calhoun is out. Santana is set in center and Gallo in right, with Heineman as the fourth outfielder.
García can hit, and Taveras is an excellent defensive player. One of them could win a spot on the 30-man roster until Calhoun returns.
Lock: Shin-Soo Choo
Possibilities: Adolis García, Blake Swihart
Choo can play the outfield if needed. Swihart and García can swing the bat if the Rangers need an offensive replacement here. But if Choo is out, it’s most likely a Calhoun/Solak combo between here and left field.
Lock: Nick Solak
Possibility: Rob Refsnyder
This is Solak’s job once Calhoun returns. It was also supposed to be a role for Kiner-Falefa until he made a strong bid for an everyday role. Refsnyder has the ability to play multiple positions, but 40-man roster spots are going to be tough to find for all these non-roster players trying to win jobs.
The rotation is set. The Rangers have three off-days in the first 11 days of the season, so there is a possibility Lyles could be skipped through the first turn. Palumbo and Allard are the leading candidates to be called upon if another starter is needed. They could also be used in the bullpen early.
Locks: José Leclerc, Nick Goody, Jesse Chavez, Jonathan Hernández, Taylor Hearn, Luke Farrell
Not ready for opener: Rafael Montero, Brett Martin, Joely Rodríguez
Possibilities: Cody Allen, Luis García, Ian Gibaut, Jimmy Herget, Derek Law, Juan Nicasio, Edinson Vólquez
Prospects to watch: Wes Benjamin, Demarcus Evans, Alex Speas
The Rangers have a lot of candidates and will need them. Montero (late to camp), Rodriguez (strained lat muscle) and Martin (COVID-19 positive test) are not expected to be ready for Opening Day.
But the Rangers also have a full 40-man roster, and all those candidates listed under “possibilities” are non-roster invites. Finding spots on the 40-man is going to be tough while Montero, Rodriguez and Martin are sidelined.
Gibaut and Benjamin appeared to be long shots coming into camp but have been among the Rangers’ most impressive relievers of late.