It’s difficult trying to project the Rangers opening day roster of 26 based on the current 40-man roster.
Mainly, because it’s incomplete. And, because there are still a few questions. Like, will they have a six-man rotation, which is being talked about around baseball this year since last year most starters got in around 65 to 80 innings.
Assuming a full season, asking starters to now go from, say, 70 innings to 200 might be courting disaster. So, to mitigate that, there is talk of a six-man rotation for 2021. Which is fine if you have six quality starters. The Rangers have one. Really, half of one. Dan Dunning. He can go only five innings per start.
So, looking at the Rangers current roster, you have to project a rotation of Dane Dunning, Kyle Gibson, Jordan Lyles, Kyle Cody, Kolby Allard, and then Joe Palumbo or Taylor Hearn or Brock Burke.
The bullpen is anybody’s guess. Locks are Wes Benjamin, Brett de Gets (he’s Rule 5, so he will at least open the season a Ranger), Demarcus Evans, Jonathan Hernandez, Jose Leclerc, Joey Rodriguez.
Catcher is easy. At least starting. That will go to Jose Trevino. Who his backup is until Sam Huff arrives mid-season is a toss up. The Ranger have two other catchers on their 40-man, not counting Huff, in Aramis Garcia and David Garcia. To give you an idea of how comfortable they are with them, they just signed veteran Sal Butera to a minor-league deal. Expect him to be the backup.
First should go to Nate Lowe. Ronald Guzman has had three seasons to figure out how to hit and hasn’t yet. Nothing suggests he will.
Second base is Rougned Odor’s until he dies, no matter what anyone says.
Shortstop has been handed to Isiah Kiner-Falefa.
So that leaves a big gaping hole at third. It’s been there ever since Adrian Beltre retired. Nate Lowe could play there if Guzman somehow magically learned to hit. There’s talk of moving Elvis Andrus there. But why would you put a guy who can’t hit well enough as a shortstop into an offensive-demanding position where you are expected to produce runs? Maybe Nick Solak. He’s played some third. He’s not great defensively but John Daniels has never cared about defense. Maybe Chris Young can explain to him what a baseball glove is and does. The Rangers don’t have a third baseman. Maybe they just get Kiner-Falefa to cover both. He’s good with the leather. Sherten Apostle isn’t ready.
The outfield is set, as long as David Dahl can stay healthy. It’s Dahl in left, Leodys Taveras in center, Joey Gallo in right.
DH is a battle between Willie Calhoun and Nick Solak.
Assuming there is a spring training this year, and that it starts on time, it would appear pitchers and catchers are about one month away from reporting. The rest of the 40-man roster will report shortly after that. And, due to COVID concerns, the minor leaguers will report much later, to keep activity and bodies to a safe minimum.
One thing is for certain. The Rangers don’t have a third baseman. They don’t have much of a rotation. And they don’t have a prayer at the playoffs, unless they are expanded to 29 teams. And they can figure out how to beat out the Pirates.