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Rangers offseason FAQ: Who stays, may go

Decisions ahead on free agents, extensions, options, non-tenders
@Sullivan_Ranger
November 1, 2019

ARLINGTON -- Time to answer some basic questions about the Rangers as the offseason begins. Here is a good primer on where the Rangers stand. Which players are free agents? Outfielder Hunter Pence, infielder Logan Forsythe and pitcher Edinson Vólquez. The Rangers have much respect for all three and aren’t

ARLINGTON -- Time to answer some basic questions about the Rangers as the offseason begins. Here is a good primer on where the Rangers stand.

Which players are free agents?

Outfielder Hunter Pence, infielder Logan Forsythe and pitcher Edinson Vólquez. The Rangers have much respect for all three and aren’t going to rule out re-signing any of them, though Vólquez is expected to retire and Forsythe’s role may be filled by Isiah Kiner-Falefa or Nick Solak. The Rangers would like Pence back but may not have enough playing time and at-bats to satisfy him.

Which players have options and how does that impact the Rangers?

Shortstop Elvis Andrus has three years and $43.75 million left on his contract, but he can walk away from that and become a free agent. The Rangers don’t expect that to happen.

The Rangers have an option on Shawn Kelley at $2.5 million with a $250,000 buyout. That’s a tough call but Kelley is an effective reliever when healthy. He has said he will retire if the Rangers don’t pick up the option. He may end up in a roster crunch, but the Rangers could decline the option and sign him to a Minor League contract.

The Rangers will decline a $5.15 million contract on veteran reliever Nate Jones, who was acquired from the White Sox on July 31. Jones is recovering from surgery to repair a torn right flexor. The Rangers like Jones and may try to re-sign him to a Minor League contract.

Who might be a non-tender candidate, and when does the club have to make that decision?

The Rangers currently have seven players eligible for arbitration: outfielders Joey Gallo, Nomar Mazara and Delino DeShields, utility player Danny Santana, pitchers Rafael Montero and Jesse Biddle and catcher Tim Federowicz. The Rangers will take Federowicz and Biddle -- currently on the 60-day injured list -- off the roster relatively soon. The other five should be tendered contracts without hesitation. The non-tender date is Dec. 2.

Will there be any coaching staff changes?

The Rangers are looking for a new Major League player development and field coordinator after Jayce Tingler was hired as the new Padres manager.

Who needs to be added to the 40-man roster this winter to avoid the Rule 5 Draft?

Start with outfielder Leody Taveras, the Rangers’ No. 5 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. Then it gets interesting. The Rangers have quite a few young arms who could be prime Rule 5 targets for clubs looking for a cheap way to add bullpen help.

Right-handers Joe Barlow and Demarcus Evans will be protected. Right-hander Kyle Cody should be as well, even though he missed the season recovering from Tommy John surgery. Tyler Phillips (No. 16 prospect) was the Rangers Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2018 and he is a candidate. Others who could be interesting decisions are right-handers Scott Engler, Mike Matuella, Jake Lemoine, Reid Anderson and Blake Bass.

Infielders Sherten Apostel (No. 10 prospect) and Anderson Tejeda (No. 11 prospect) played in Class A last season.

Will the Rangers have a 40-man roster crunch?

Possibly. The Rangers currently have a full 40-man roster and Gallo, Jesse Chavez and Taylor Hearn need to be added from the 60-day injured list. They can fill the vacancies of the eligible free agents -- Pence, Forsythe, Vólquez -- but that still leaves the Rangers at 40. Texas will have to be creative to make room for the younger guys, but it shouldn’t be too traumatic.

What players could be offered extensions this winter?

Mike Minor. He is a free agent after next season. The Rangers will explore an extension with him either in the winter or during Spring Training. Gallo is a possibility although his agent, Scott Boras, may prefer his client play a full season with peak production in order to gain maximum leverage.

Do any Rangers players need offseason surgery?

Not yet. Minor League right-hander Hans Crouse (No. 3 prospect) needed minor surgery to remove bone spurs in his right elbow, but he should be ready for Spring Training. Joe Palumbo (No. 6 prospect) was scratched from a spot in the Arizona Fall League when the blister on his left thumb flared up again. But the Texas ailments from September -- Jeff Mathis and Mazara -- should heal with rest.

What kind of help do the Rangers need now, and will they be active in free agency? Who might they target?

The Rangers should have the financial flexibility to be active in the free-agent market. However, they need help in multiple areas, including at least two starting pitchers and a third baseman. Depth at catcher, first base and center field are also possible targets.

Anthony Rendon is the best of the free agents at third base, but Josh Donaldson may be a better fit contractually for the Rangers. Todd Frazier is another right-handed bat if the Rangers want to put more of their resources toward starting pitching, an area that is unusually deep with potential job-seekers this year. Gerrit Cole is the big prize followed by Madison Bumgarner and Hyun-Jin Ryu. But there are more behind them to help any rotation.

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.