The calendar countdown to Opening Day is officially beginning. With pitchers and catchers reporting throughout the week (Rangers report on February 15th), it’s that time to gaze into who makes the Opening Day roster. The Rangers have seventy players on their Spring Training list where only twenty-six will make the Opening Day cut. The infield, a portion of the outfield, and the starting staff are clear on who will start, barring any injuries, but what about left field? What about the bullpen, and will the Rangers carry a third catcher on the roster? Well, let’s take a look at who all is on the seventy-player roster list:
Pitchers (40-man list)
Joe Barlow, Brock Burke, Jacob deGrom, Dane Dunning, Nathan Eovaldi, Jon Gray, Andrew Heaney, Taylor Hearn, Jonathan Hernández, Spencer Howard, Zak Kent, John King, José Leclerc, Brett Martin, Jake Odorizzi, Glenn Otto, Martín Pérez, Cole Ragans, Yerry Rodriguez, Josh Sborz, Ricky Vanasco, Owen White, Cole Winn.
Pitchers (Non Roster list)
Jacob Barnes, Cody Bradford, Marc Church, Kyle Cody, Danny Duffy, Kyle Funkhouser, Lucas Jacobsen, Antoine Kelly, Ian Kennedy, Kake Latz, Chase Lee, Jack Leiter, Zack Littell, Reyes Moronta, Fernery Ozuna, Daniel Robert, Kumar Rocker, Avery Weems.
Position Players ( 40-man list)
Luisangel Acuña, Ezequiel Duran, Adolis García, Mitch Garver, Dustin Harris, Jonah Heim, Sam Huff, Josh Jung, Nathaniel Lowe, Mark Mathias, Brad Miller, Jonathan Ornelas, Corey Seager, Marcus Semien, Josh Smith, Leody Taveras, Bubba Thompson.
Position Players (Non Roster List)
Evan Carter, Blaine Crim, Justin Foscue, Jackson (Clint) Frazier, Cody Freeman, David García, Elier Hernandez, Travis Jankowski, Sandy León, Joe McCarthy, Yoshi Tsutsugo, Matt Whatley.
— Texas Rangers (@Rangers) February 13, 2023
Projected Opening Day Position Players:
Catchers: Mitch Garver, Jonah Heim
Infield: Nathaniel Lowe, Marcus Semien, Corey Seager, Josh Jung, Mark Mathias
Outfield: Adolis Garcia, Leody Taveras, Josh Smith, Bubba Thompson, Brad Miller, Ezequiel Duran
Mark Mathias, Josh Smith, and Brad Miller are all interchangeable between infield and outfield. Any can play third base if Josh Jung needs a rest, Smith can go to short if Corey Seager needs a day, and Mathias can plant at first if Nathaniel Lowe needs a rare day off (don’t even ask about Marcus Semien). Therefore, versatility covers. There is one factor, though, that can flip a switch on the roster, and that’s how Mitch Garver handles behind the plate. Chris Young didn’t rule out the possibility of three catchers in January, but that depends on how Mitch Garver fares catching. Mitch said he was ahead of schedule a few weeks ago, and all signs pointed positively, but the rehab wasn’t complete. Of course, that means Sam Huff gets the final nod over likely Ezequiel Duran, but that’s only if Garver isn’t ready to catch for Opening Day.
As for left field, I see Josh Smith getting most of the reps followed by Bubba Thompson, then have Mark Mathias or Brad Miller on the bench if needed. Center field is established in that the only way Leody Taveras does not win that role is if he leaves manager Bruce Bochy no choice and if someone like Thompson or Smith blasts the heck out of the ball. Those two combinations may intrigue things, but from a roster construction standpoint, it’s about what we all expect heading into Spring Training. As for non-roster players, Evan Carter is the one to look out for. Carter is my 2022 Josh Smith pick (that may be a yearly prediction); where he’ll tear it up in Spring Training, but he will start in Triple-A and could make his debut sooner than you think.
Projected Pitching Staff
Starters: Jacob deGrom, Martin Perez, Jon Gray, Nathan Eovaldi, Andrew Heaney
Relievers: Brock Burke, Dane Dunning, John King, Jose Leclerc, Jonathan Hernandez, Taylor Hearn, Joe Barlow, Kyle Cody
I’m curious if the Rangers use a six-man rotation to begin the season. If that becomes the case, I think Dane Dunning will take that final spot leaving Taylor Hearn as the long relief man in the bullpen. If not, the Rangers have two inning-eating relievers, Hearn and Dunning, in their pen. Brock Burke is transitioning from preparing as a starter to prepping as a reliever, which is a big difference compared to building endurance. Add John King, and Texas has two left-handed relievers plus right-handers, Joe Barlow, Jose Leclerc, and Jonathan Hernandez. For the closer, Leclerc has the edge, and I think he’ll start, but it may be a closer by committee to begin the year, so don’t get too attached.
Finally, a non-roster guy makes an impression each year, and the team finds a spot for him. In 2023, Kyle Cody is my non-roster Opening Day pick. Cody pitched in the Majors before his season ended abruptly in 2021 and pitched well in Triple-A to end last season. One thing to note is with Brett Martin hurt to begin the season, the Rangers may place him on the sixty-day injured list, opening a forty-man roster spot right off the bat.
Finally, you’re 2023 Opening Day Projected lineup against the Philadelphia Phillies in Arlington:
2B Marcus Semien
SS Corey Seager
1B Nathaniel Lowe
CF Adolis Garcia
C Mitch Garver
3B Josh Jung
LF Josh Smith
DH Brad Miller (assuming the Phillies use Zack Wheeler)
CF Leody Taveras
P Jacob deGrom