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Who will make Rangers' Opening Day roster?

@Sullivan_Ranger
November 6, 2020

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers are just beginning to put together their 26-man roster for next season. Their offseason to-do list includes finding more offensive firepower and starting-pitching depth, plus a backup catcher and a utility infielder. • Offseason checklist: Rangers’ needs and moves So it would be a reach to

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers are just beginning to put together their 26-man roster for next season. Their offseason to-do list includes finding more offensive firepower and starting-pitching depth, plus a backup catcher and a utility infielder.

Offseason checklist: Rangers’ needs and moves

So it would be a reach to project a 26-man roster at this point. But the Rangers are also committed to going with their young players, and they could easily build a representative Opening Day roster based on what they have on the 40-man roster right now.

Consider this a working blueprint for more moves to be made.

Catcher (2): Jose Trevino, Sam Huff
Trevino has the leadership and defensive skills to be a front-line catcher in the big leagues. Like any young catcher, he needs more experience in the art of calling a game, but that will come. The Rangers would like to see more offense, but what Trevino really needs is to stay healthy for an extended period of time. Huff had an impressive 10-game stretch in September but realistically could use more time in Double-A while a to-be-named veteran catcher backs up Trevino.

First base (1): Ronald Guzmán
Guzmán is 26 and will be out of options next season. The Rangers will likely bring in veteran competition like they did this last season with Derek Dietrich, Greg Bird and Sam Travis. Guzmán keeps showing just enough to keep the Rangers hoping, but his time may be running out. Top prospect Josh Jung could easily be switched from third to first base.

Second base (1): Rougned Odor
Odor is owed $24.6 million over the next two seasons, and the Rangers insist that won’t prevent them from moving on from him if needed. A few other facts: Odor will turn 27 in February and is just one of two players on the 40-man roster with the proven ability to hit 30 home runs and record 90 RBIs. That can’t be lightly discarded.

Third base (1): Isiah Kiner-Falefa
A well-deserved Gold Glove speaks to Kiner-Falefa's defensive ability. The Rangers will eventually need more offense from the position and have Jung, Davis Wendzel and Sherten Apostel as future possibilities. There is also the possibility that Kiner-Falefa could show the same improvement offensively that he has with the glove and end up more than adequate at third base.

Shortstop (1): Elvis Andrus
Andrus is the Major League active leader in career games at shortstop, so maybe it is time to transition into a utility role. That supposes that Anderson Tejeda is ready to take over, but Texas isn't sure that’s the case. MLB Pipeline's list of the Rangers' Top 30 Prospects also includes infielders Maximo Acosta (No. 5), Luisangel Acuna (No. 17), Osleivis Basabe (No. 19), Jonathan Ornelas (No. 27) and Chris Seise (No. 28). Andrus is good enough to keep the Rangers from having to rush anybody.

Outfield (3): Nick Solak, Leody Taveras, Joey Gallo
The Rangers want Solak in the lineup but need to find the right spot. Second base would be preferable if not for Odor. Left field can work, but just like third base, Texas needs more run production in left. There’s a good chance Solak has yet to hit his offensive ceiling. Taveras is not a lock, but the Rangers clearly see him as the center fielder of the future. What the Rangers need from Gallo is obvious.

Designated hitter (1): Willie Calhoun
This is the spot to get Calhoun’s bat into the lineup, although the Rangers don’t want him to settle for being a DH.

Bench (3): Anderson Tejeda, Scott Heineman, Eli White
Heineman is a right-handed hitter who can play all three outfield spots and first base. He fits well as a fourth outfielder. So could White, but if his offense comes around, he is more than a fourth outfielder. Tejeda will most likely play every day in the Minors rather than be used in a limited utility role.

Starting pitching (5): RHP Lance Lynn, RHP Kyle Gibson, RHP Jordan Lyles, LHP Kolby Allard, LHP Wes Benjamin
Right-hander Kyle Cody and left-hander Taylor Hearn are probably the two most talented young starters on the 40-man roster, but their lack of work over the past 2-3 seasons forces the Rangers to carefully monitor their usage. That’s why Allard and Benjamin are the safer bets, at least to begin next season. Both are highly regarded, as is left-hander John King.

Bullpen (8): RHP José Leclerc, RHP Rafael Montero, RHP Jonathan Hernández, RHP Jimmy Herget, LHP Joely Rodríguez, LHP Brett Martin, RHP Demarcus Evans, RHP Art Warren
If these eight pitchers are healthy on Opening Day next season, the Rangers will be more than satisfied with their bullpen.

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.