One of the most underrated parts of Spring Training is the fight of non-roster invitees.
Texas and every MLB team has the option to carry over 50 players on a Spring Training roster, including players on the 40-man roster and these “NRI’s,” as they’re known. Every now and then, one bursts onto the scene and spurs excitement with his play in Cactus League ball on the way to the roster spot. This year, the Rangers saw a slew of players do just that.
A journeyman reliever turned into a hot commodity in 2014, Hammel, 36, is a veteran right-handed arm that has experience playing for contending Kansas City, Oakland and Chicago Cubs teams. He will likely serve as a “stop-gap” arm behind the Texas rotation and the “mop-up” or long-relief role for games that get out of hand.
He had a respectable Spring and is a serviceable Major League player at this point in his career. With his addition, the Rangers will opt for eight bullpen arms instead of another bench player, and will start fellow fringe righty Adrian Sampson at Triple-A Nashville.
Pence was perhaps the most intriguing non-roster invitee in the MLB this year. The Ft. Worth native and collegiate product of Texas-Arlington returns to the state where he once starred with Houston on a chance to start for the Rangers on opening day.
His Spring started off slowly, but he went on a torrid pace in the middle of it with a .333 average, 3 homers and 7 RBI in March to secure his spot. If nothing else, the former San Francisco fan-favorites charisma and hard-nosed style of play will be fun to watch.
Forsythe has been a respectable utility infielder this decade in stints with San Diego, Tampa Bay, the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Minnesota. He’s a journeyman at this point, but with Texas opting to transition utility infielder Isiah Kiner-Falefa to full-time backup catcher, the Rangers will make good use out of his versatility as a backup infielder.
Notable Demotion: Willie Calhoun.
One of the most notable storylines entering Spring was the physical transformation of Willie Calhoun. According to T.R Sullivan of MLB.com, Calhoun overhauled his offseason routine, from cutting out the popular video game Fortnite and junk food out of his life, to dropping over 20 pounds.
He looks lean, and he had a good Spring, but with Pence’s play in March, the Rangers simply don’t have room for him on the Opening Day roster. His only option? Play so well at AAA Nashville he can’t be ignored. Or wait on an injury. Either way, Rangers fans will see him grace the roster soon enough- this move likely could’ve been offered to protect his MLB service time- which affects how soon Calhoun would reach his free agency.
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