ARLINGTON -- The Rangers, a team buying pitchers in bulk this offseason, must decide by Friday if right-handers Nick Martinez and A.J. Griffin will remain a part of their inventory.Texas faces a 7 p.m. CT deadline on Friday to tender contracts to its players for the 2018 season. Players who
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers, a team buying pitchers in bulk this offseason, must decide by Friday if right-handers Nick Martinez and A.J. Griffin will remain a part of their inventory.
Texas faces a 7 p.m. CT deadline on Friday to tender contracts to its players for the 2018 season. Players who are not offered contracts -- "non-tendered" in baseball parlance -- become free agents.
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Players eligible for arbitration are usually -- but not exclusively -- the ones considered possible non-tender candidates. The Rangers have six eligible: Martinez, Griffin, relievers Jake Diekman and Keone Kela, infielder Jurickson Profar and utility player Ryan Rua.
The Rangers, who have 39 players on their 40-man roster, are mulling the possibility of non-tendering at least one or more of those six. Martinez and Griffin could be among the discussion.
"We have some things we are still talking through," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said.
Diekman and Kela shouldn't be in jeopardy on a team trying to fix the bullpen. Diekman made a triumphant return in September after missing the first five months while dealing with chronic ulcerative colitis. He posted a 2.53 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP in 11 outings, striking out 13 batters in 10 2/3 innings.
The Rangers' goal with Kela is to keep him healthy. He has been on the disabled list three times in the past two years with shoulder and elbow issues. When Kela is healthy, he has pitched well. Over the past three years, he has a 1.14 WHIP, has held opponents to a .207 batting average and has averaged 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings.
Martinez has been the Rangers' most durable pitcher over the past four years, missing only two weeks in 2014 with minor muscle discomfort in his left side. He has also spent that time bouncing between the Rangers' rotation, bullpen and Triple-A Round Rock. Since making his Major League debut on April 5, 2014, Martinez has been sent down and recalled from the Minors 13 times.
The 27-year-old Martinez has made 68 starts for the Rangers and is 15-28 with a 5.02 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP. In 20 relief appearances, he is 2-2 with a 2.55 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP.
Griffin has also had trouble staying healthy, landing on the disabled list three times in the past two seasons while with the Rangers. When healthy, he has made 38 starts for the Rangers and has gone 13-10 with a 5.23 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP. Griffin has had stretches of success, but he has been unable to sustain them because of the health issues.
Right now, Griffin and Martinez are the Rangers' No. 4 and 5 starters, respectively, in a rotation that leads off with Cole Hamels, Martin Perez and Doug Fister. There is very little Major League-ready depth behind them, although the Rangers are considering the possibility of moving reliever Matt Bush to the rotation.
The pending decisions on Martinez and Griffin should provide a strong indication of how confident the Rangers are in upgrading their rotation this offseason.
Both Profar and Rua are not expected to receive budget-crippling raises from arbitration. Profar spent almost all of last season at Triple-A, but he is still the Rangers' primary middle-infield depth. Rua's chief value has been as a right-handed hitter off the bench with the ability to play multiple positions.
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.