Rangers finalize Opening Day roster

March 29th, 2023

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Thanks to a very active free agency market, the Rangers have a fully set rotation and lineup, perhaps for the first time in years. This winter, Texas faced its biggest problem headfirst by adding four starting pitchers to compete for rotation spots, including an ace in .

Combine that with last year's additions -- via trade and free agency -- of , , and -- and the Rangers are in a good place going forward.

“You look at what we've done yet, the improvements that we have made, we've become more pitcher-centric,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “I'm a big believer in, and especially in that starting rotation, and so I like the fact that every guy we're going to start is going to give us a chance to win. To me, that’s the recipe for success for a Major League team, and these players know that. I couldn't be more excited about what we have here.”

Here is a position-by-position breakdown on how the Rangers stack up on Opening Day:

Catcher (2): ,
Garver is coming off a season-ending flexor tendon surgery in his right arm, but he is expected to be a full go come Opening Day, while Heim impressed by taking over the No. 1 role in Garver’s absence last season.

Heim is one of the best defensive and framing catchers in the game, but he will need to consistently produce at the plate in order to surpass Garver. The two will mostly likely split the reps evenly behind the plate to start the season.

First baseman (1):
The 2022 American League Silver Slugger Award winner at first base, Lowe is looking for a similarly strong season in the middle of the Rangers' lineup. After slashing .302/.358/.492 last year, Lowe is hoping to continue to improve upon his defense and to become a more well-rounded player for Texas.

Second baseman (1):
A finalist for both an AL Gold Glove Award and an AL Silver Slugger Award in 2022, Semien will no doubt continue to lead off for the Rangers as a major contributor on both sides of the ball.

Shortstop (1):
Seager is coming off one of his worst seasons offensively, but he also logged a career high in home runs. With the elimination of defensive shifts, his batting average should return to his career norm and he should continue to be a consistent contributor in the middle of the order.

Third baseman (1):
The Rangers’ top prospect, Jung is finally healthy, and he's expected to be the Opening Day third baseman in 2023 and for the foreseeable future. He made his MLB debut in September, hitting just .204 in 26 games. With a fully healthy offseason and some at-bats against big league pitching under his belt, Jung should be a solid contributor in the upcoming season.

Outfielders (4):, , ,
The Rangers are in a solid place in the outfield when healthy, but that unfortunately wasn’t the case coming out of camp. The club ran into a speed bump when Leody Taveras landed on the IL with an oblique injury; he would have been the Opening Day center fielder. Thompson's best role may be as a fourth outfielder or a defensive replacement because of his speed and glove, but he’ll likely start on Opening Day with Taveras out. Jankowski entered camp on a non-roster invite deal and was able to sneak on the roster with Taveras’ injury.

DH (1):
The most likely option for DH is whichever of Garver and Heim isn’t catching that day, and after Mark Mathias was DFA’d on March 8, there’s even more room for somebody to be an everyday DH. Bochy said he’ll likely “ride the hot hand” or go with the favorable matchup when it comes to the position, but things can change throughout camp.

Miller is coming off an injury-riddled 2022, but he’s still valuable in a platoon situation, with a career .765 OPS against right-handed pitching.

Bench/Utility (2): Josh Smith,
Smith had a roller-coaster rookie season last year, but the Rangers' staff likes him in a super-utility role, since he's able to play second, third, short, center and left at an average to above-average level. Duran’s path to making the Opening Day roster opened when the club DFA’d Mathias, as he’s younger with a similar skill set. He was other-worldly in the last week of Cactus League play, finishing with a ​​.357/.390/.714 slash line while playing both infield and outfield positions to increase his versatility and earn a spot on the roster. 

The Rangers will have to decide if the 23-year-old needs more outfield reps at Triple-A Round Rock to start the season, or if his bat is too valuable to keep out of the big leagues.

Starting pitchers (5): , , , ,
Ace deGrom will highlight the rotation with newcomers Eovaldi and Heaney joining returnees Gray and Pérez in one of baseball’s most high-risk, high-reward staffs.

Relief pitchers (8): , , , , , , ,
With and opening the season on the 60-day injury list, Dunning and Ragans were both able to force their way onto the roster as long relief options early in the season. 

Closer will likely come down to a healthy Hernández or Leclerc, but Smith was recently signed, and Burke could also slot into high-leverage situations. Kennedy was able to earn a spot on the Rangers’ Opening Day roster for the second time in three years after allowing just two earned runs over eight innings this spring.