Rangers spring training winding down

by Dan M | Posted on Saturday, March 16th, 2019

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BY DIC HUMPHREY
DHUMPHREY24@GMAIL.COM
Member United States Basketball Writers Association

Spring Training is drawing to a close.  There are less than two
weeks until opening day. Surprisingly, there isn’t much new to report
about the Rangers. Here are a few observations:
• Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association have agreed
upon some rule changes for the 2019 season and beyond.  For 2019,
there will be just one trade deadline.  In recent years, there have
been essentially two – one around July 31 and the other on August 31.
Before July 31, players were tradeable, but after July 31 the waiver
process came into play.  Basically, players had to clear waivers to be
eligible to be traded.  In 2019, there will be no trades after July 31.
• MLB has also added incentives for players to participate in the
annual Home Run Derby around the All-Star break. There will be $2.5
million distributed to the participants, with $1,000,000 of that going
to the winner. (The Rangers’ Joey Gallo, who has hit 81 home runs over
the past two seasons, immediately expressed an interest in
participating in this year’s Home Run Derby upon learning of these
financial incentives.  He was invited to participate in each of the
last two seasons, but declined both times.)
• Lastly for 2019, there will be an “Election Day” to vote for All-Stars.
• In the interest of speeding up the pace of play, pitchers will now
have to face at least three batters beginning with the 2020 season.
There are some exceptions such as injury and the batters faced
requirement doesn’t roll over to a new inning.
• The roster size will increase from 25 to 26 players in 2020.
• There are definitely economic issues to be hammered out in order to
renew an agreement between the owners and players when the current
collective bargaining agreement (CBA) expires after the 2021 season.
The slow free agent market the past two seasons have the players
rattling sabers such that for the first time since 1994, the
possibility of a player strike looks possible.  However, these rule
changes agreed upon during the span of the current CBA is a good sign.
Hopefully for the fans sake, the early start on ironing out the issues
will avoid a work stoppage.
• Jose Leclerc signed a contract extension – four years at $14.75
million. That included a $2,000,000 signing bonus, which is paid
$500,000 per year for four years beginning in 2019.  He will earn
salaries of $1,000,000 in 2019, $2,250,000 in 2020, $4,000,000 in
2021, and $4,750,000 in 2022.  The team has options for 2023 and 2024
at $6,000,000 and $6,250,000 with a $750,000 buyout.  It was one of
the largest contracts given to a player that did not have enough
playing time to be arbitration eligible, but at the same time was
criticized for being team friendly.
• Hunter Pence hit his third home run this week.  Pence is vying for
a reserve outfield spot on the roster.  He started slowly with a
shoulder injury that kept him off the field early in camp, but at
least one beat writer thinks he has made the team.  He signed a minor
league contract with an invitation to spring training, so a spot on
the 40-man roster will need to be cleared to put him on the team.  He
has been competing with Willie Calhoun, Carlos Tocci and Ben Revere
for a reserve outfield spot.  Tocci and Calhoun are on the 40-man
roster, but have minor league options, and Calhoun was hitting just
.206 in his first 15 games.  Revere was reassigned to minor league
camp last Tuesday.
• The Rangers are apparently set at catcher with Jeff Mathis and
Isiah Kiner-Falefa for the opening day roster.  This pair is projected
to catch no more than 130 games collectively, so somewhere down the
line; the Rangers will be adding another receiver.  Jose Trevino is
the top minor league prospect, so it could be him.  Otherwise, they’ll
be scouring the waiver wire and looking for a veteran with a little
gas left in the tank.
• Patrick Wisdom and Drew Davidson both continue to be impressive in
their pursuit of a roster spot as a back-up infielder.  Ranger manager
Chris Woodward has said that it is unlikely that both make the team,
and it’s possible that neither makes the opening day roster.  Davidson
is one of four Rangers with a team leading three home runs this
spring.  Logan Forsythe is also in the mix, and he is primarily a
middle infielder.
• Manager Chris Woodward tentatively announced his batting order for
the start of the season.  1.  Shin-Soo Choo DH  2.  Rougned Odor 2B
3. Elvis Andrus SS  4. Nomar Mazara RF  5. Joey Gallo LF  6  Asdrubal
Cabrera 3B  7  Ronald Guzman  1B  8 The catcher (Mathis or
Kiner-Falefa)  9. Delino DeShields CF.  Woodward also officially
announced that Mike Minor will be the opening day starting pitcher
• Preston Beck set a dubious record earlier in the week.  Beck was
born in Dallas, graduated from Bishop Lynch High School, and played
college ball at UT-Arlington. He was drafted in the fifth round of
the 2012 June Amateur Draft.  So far in his career, he has advanced
only to AAA.  He has never been invited to Major League camp, but on
occasion has joined the Rangers in spring games just in case the team
runs out of players.  Such players are often referred to a “JICs”
(just in case).  Last Monday, Beck homered against the Angels, his
13th hit in spring trainings as a JIC.  That ties Nate Gold for the
Rangers spring training record for hits by a JIC.  Gold and Beck also
have three home runs as JICs.

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