Bush among 4 pitchers non-tendered by Rangers
All become free agents, but club can strike deals to bring each back
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have non-tendered right-handed reliever Matt Bush, making him a free agent, although the hope is that he will ultimately remain with the club.
Bush avoided being eligible for arbitration this offseason by two service days, but he is still recovering from Sept. 19 surgery to repair a partially torn ligament in his right elbow. Bush is not expected to be ready to pitch until after the 2019 All-Star break. The Rangers want to re-sign him to a Minor League contract, which would keep Bush in the organization without tying up a spot on the 40-man roster.
"We'll continue to talk with Matt," general manager Jon Daniels said. "This gives us a little more time to work through some things. We'd like to have him back and have him continue with us."
Bush had an outstanding rookie season in 2016, going 7-2 with a 2.48 ERA and a 0.94 WHIP. But he struggled with physical and mechanical issues the past two seasons and was not quite as good as he was as a rookie. His last outing with the Rangers came on June 13, before he went on the disabled list with elbow issues.
The Rangers also elected not to tender contracts on Friday to pitchers Zac Curtis, Ricardo Rodriguez and Adrian Sampson, making them free agents as well. The Rangers offered contracts to all other players on their 40-man roster, including four who are eligible for arbitration: outfielders Delino DeShields and Nomar Mazara, infielder Jurickson Profar and pitcher Alex Claudio.
Sampson appeared to be a candidate for the Rangers' rotation next year. He was 8-4 with a 3.77 ERA in 19 starts and 14 relief appearances at Triple-A Round Rock before getting a September promotion to the Rangers. In four starts and one relief appearance, he was 0-3 with a 4.30 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP. The Rangers will also look at re-signing him to a Minor League contract.
Rodriguez has had impressive numbers as a reliever in the Rangers' farm system, but he posted a 5.49 ERA in 20 relief appearances at the Major League level over the past two seasons. He missed significant time in 2018 with right biceps tendinitis and an impingement in his right shoulder.
Curtis, a left-handed reliever, was claimed off waivers from the Phillies on Aug. 7 and had a 4.96 ERA in 15 games between the two teams. Curtis and Rodriguez could also be of interest to the Rangers on Minor League contracts. The moves leave the Rangers with 34 players on their 40-man roster.
The Rangers, despite non-tendering four pitchers, are still searching far and wide for pitching help this offseason. Some interesting candidates became available through the non-tender process on Friday, including Angels right-hander Matthew Shoemaker; D-backs pitchers Shelby Miller and Brad Boxberger; Athletics pitchers Mike Fiers, Kendall Graveman and Cory Gearrin; and Giants reliever Hunter Strickland.
There are reasons those pitchers were all non-tendered, but they've all had enough success in the past to give clubs a reason to at least consider them as free agents.