Rangers take hard look at roster as OD nears

Club appears set at a number of positions, but decisions still loom

March 20th, 2018

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers general manager Jon Daniels, manager Jeff Banister and their respective staffs took a hard look on Monday where the club stands 10 days before Opening Day.

The Rangers claimed first baseman Tommy Joseph off waivers from the Phillies to add right-handed depth at the position. He will likely start the season at Double-A Frisco, with Joey Gallo at first base for the Rangers and playing the position at Triple-A Round Rock.

Joseph has been with the Phillies the past two years. He played in 142 games in 2017 and hit .240 with 22 home runs, 69 RBIs, a .289 on-base percentage and a .432 slugging percentage. He had 129 strikeouts and 33 walks.

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"He has showed some things offensively, right-handed bat with power, chance to be more than that," Daniels said. "He has an option remaining. He gives us some protection."

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Catching has been another topic of discussion for the Rangers as they consider who will be the backup to . Catchers are starting to become available, such as , who was released by the Indians.

The Rangers are likely to go with what they have. appears to be the leading candidate, although the Rangers still have Curt Casali, Mike Ohlman and in camp.

"We have talked to some clubs," Daniels said. "I'm planning on going with our guys here. Not sure the guys available are meaningful upgrades. We don't want to just shuffle the decks. If somebody who was a meaningful upgrade was available, we'll pursue it. If not, we are prepared to go with the guys in camp."

The Rangers are also committed to as their utility infielder, which is why asked for and was given his release.

"Darwin kind of saw the writing on the wall," Daniels said. "Came in and asked us directly where he stood. We told him barring a change or an injury or trade, something we couldn't forecast, he was not going to make the club. To his credit, he said he doesn't want to sit around and wait for somebody to get hurt. We asked him to be patient, he wanted to get out there and talk to other teams. We don't believe in holding people hostage."

The two biggest pitching decisions involve and the closer's role.

was the Rangers' closer at the end of last year, but it does not appear he will resume that role this season. The Rangers see his versatility and durability more valuable earlier in the game.

"He is so much more valuable than just waiting for a save opportunity," Banister said. "Save opportunities don't show up every night. I'll go back, we pined over closing out games last year, and early on, it was not the ninth inning that was the issue. It was getting to the ninth. We've got to close innings out, period."

could be given that chance, but he is still building up and has not yet pitched in a game. He was signed on March 7.

"We have a program for him that's comfortable to him to continue on a pace to get on the mound, be in a competitive environment," Banister said. "Once he gets there, we'll have a better idea of when he is going to be available for us."

Colon is still in camp competing for a spot in the rotation. It might end up being the bullpen or nowhere for the veteran right-hander. The Rangers are locked in with a rotation that includes Cole Hamels, Doug Fister, Matt Moore and Mike Minor. The Rangers are still waiting on , but all evidence suggests he is completely recovered from the broken bone in his right elbow and will be ready for the start of the season.

"Nothing has happened to say he wouldn't be," Banister said. "There is nothing there to deter him from being there, but final decisions have yet to be made."