With the exceptions of acquiring Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo, the Texas Rangers have quietly upgraded their roster this offseason.
The club has 54 players coming to spring training this year in Surprise, Ariz. But only 25 will be penciled in on the Opening Day roster. After looking over the positions that are already filled, the Rangers will most likely be filling in just a few more names.
There are many relievers on the list. Depending on how big Texas wants its bullpen to be, there could be either one or two spots up for grabs.
Here are 10 guys who will be battling for roster spots during spring training.
All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.
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The club is looking for an arm to fill in for Derek Holland until he returns from knee surgery.
Nick Tepesch may be the front-runner for the job. He started 17 games for Texas in 2013, posting a 4-6 record and 4.84 ERA in 19 total appearances. He averaged 7.4 strikeouts per nine innings and had a WHIP of 1.366 in his debut season.
There only seems to be one guy he will be battling for the last rotation spot. However, it could be his for the taking.
It is odd to think that Colby Lewis has to battle for a roster spot at this point in his career.
After all, he is the most successful postseason pitcher in the team’s history. He has pitched at least 200 innings in two of the last three seasons. The only year he didn’t was due to season-ending surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon in his elbow.
The 34-year-old hasn’t pitched in a major league game since July 18, 2012. He was brought back by the Rangers in the offseason on a one-year minor league deal.
If his elbow holds up, as well as his hip, he could be a cheap option to fill out the rotation.
Wilmer Font has been one of the club’s top prospects for a few years now.
He made two appearances in 2013, totaling just 1.1 innings of work. The 23-year-old has made five total appearances, giving up two runs on just one hit but walked six altogether.
Font had his best year in the minors last season. He posted a 1.04 ERA and 14 saves in 52 innings between Double-A and Triple-A. Control is still an issue, however, as he averaged nearly six walks per nine innings.
He has been with the Rangers since he was 17 years old. He could be ready to have a full-time job with the big club.
Michael Kirkman has had an up-and-down career since making his debut with Texas in 2010.
That year, he appeared in 14 games and had a 1.65 ERA. His ERA ballooned to 6.59 in 2011, dropped to 3.82 in 2012 and rose to a dismal 8.18 last season. Kirkman earns a lot of punchouts but also issues plenty of walks.
He had a recurrence of skin cancer last year that cut his season short. If he doesn’t improve this spring, his time with the Rangers could come to an end.
Shawn Tolleson was picked up off waivers by the Rangers on Nov. 20 and could be one of their biggest acquisitions.
Although he struggled with injuries last season, Tolleson turned just 26 years old on Jan. 19. He holds a 1.34 ERA in 127.2 innings during his time in the minor leagues. The former Baylor Bear appeared in 40 games, striking out 39 and posted a 4.30 ERA during his debut year in 2012 with the Dodgers.
Texas has plenty of options for the setup and closer roles. Tolleson could end up being another for Ron Washington in 2014.
Ben Rowen has been very successful for the Rangers in the farm system since being drafted in 2010.
The 25-year-old reliever currently holds a career 18-5 record. His ERA is just 1.34 and has a WHIP of .963 in 215 innings. Rowen has played at every level in the organization with the exception of rookie ball. He has been simply superb so far in his career, minors or not.
Perhaps his delivery is the reason he hasn't gotten the call-up yet. Rowen would still be a good option for Texas against right-handed batters. All he does is sit hitters down and should be worthy of the opportunity.
If he can transfer some of that success to the big leagues, fans will be seeing Rowen make his big league debut in 2014.
Joseph Ortiz made 32 appearances for the Rangers in 2013.
He made multiple trips between Triple-A Round Rock and Arlington. At one point he had 42 days in between appearances for Texas. He finished his first year in the big leagues with a 4.23 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 44.2 innings.
Ortiz wasn’t great for the team in 2013 but did show signs of being a reliable option for Washington. If he can be more consistent, he could get another shot with the big club this season.
Jim Adduci has been a career minor leaguer since being drafted by the Marlins in 2003.
He finally made his major league debut during his first year in the Rangers organization last year. Adduci was called up on Sept. 1 when MLB rosters expanded to 40 players. He played in 17 games, hitting .258 in 31 at-bats.
The 28-year-old improved his power numbers while playing at Triple-A Round Rock. After hitting a total of 24 home runs in nine years, he hit 16 in 2013. He also had career-highs in hits (141) and RBI (65).
Adduci may still be a long shot to make the roster. But after 10 years in the minors, he may be ready to at least come off the bench in the big leagues.
And because of that, Choice may be a shoo-in for the Opening Day roster. However, he is only 24 years old and has just nine games of MLB experience. Considering the outfield is already set, it may be in his best interest to let him play every day in Round Rock until needed.
Strikeouts were an issue for Choice during his tenure in the Oakland system. He struck out 382 times in 371 games over the course of four years. But he was still able to hit .280 and post a .376 OBP. He also has the power that Gentry lacked, hitting 30 homers in one season at High-A Stockton.
Fans watched as Jurickson Profar struggled in 2013 while platooning around the infield every other day. Although a fourth outfielder will be needed, nobody wants to see that kind of a repeat.
Like Adduci, Engel Beltre was added to the 40-man roster during the final month of the 2013 season.
The 24-year-old had a .250 batting average in 22 games. He had just one extra-base hit and drove in five runs. Beltre was solid in the outfield during his limited time with the big club. He didn’t commit a single error in 95 innings and played each outfield position.
Beltre has been in the organization since he was 17 years old. He has decent pop in his bat and is quick on the basepaths. It could end up being a battle between him and Choice for the 25-man roster.