Texas Rangers: 2021 Opening Day Roster Prediction

Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images
Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images /

The Texas Rangers Spring Training is underway and the club’s first exhibition game is already Sunday. There is plenty of intrigue surrounding the Texas Rangers camp leading up to Opening Day as very few starting spots are locked up.

Most of the team’s young, promising talent (Josh Jung, Sam Huff, Cole Winn, etc.) are expected to start the year down at the AAA level to get more every day reps. Management is being wise by not rushing these guys.

But as to what the opening day roster looks like, much is still unknown.

Today we look at what we believe the Texas Rangers 2021 opening day roster will look like and why.

Catcher: Jose Trevino

Trevino was a productive hitter for the Rangers in 2020 with a OPS+ of 91 (100 is league average) before going down with an injury and appearing in just 24 games. He’ll need to stay healthy and raise his OBP if he wants to hold on to the starting gig behind the plate.

Sam Huff will likely begin the year in the minors, but expect him to be recalled to the bigs in 2021 and grab the starting job immediately.

Infielder: 1B Nate Lowe, 2B Nick Solak, SS Isiah Kiner-Falefa, 3B Rougned Odor

Nate Lowe can mash and could be a guy who greatly benefits from regular playing time. Solak will look to take over second base from Odor, but must improve from his -1.0 WAR in 2020.

As for the left side, shortstop is the only infield position that has a confirmed starter by skipper Chris Woodward. Kiner-Falefa is back to his roots at short and will look to build on his Gold Glove-winning campaign of 2020.

Things get weird at the hot corner. Truthfully, I have no idea who will be playing third base on April 1. Whoever it is, don’t get too attached. Unless we see unexpected, dynamic play from Odor, Spring Training-invite Brock Holt, or someone else, the Opening Day third baseman will be serving as a placeholder until top prospect Josh Jung is ready. If I had to put down a bet today, I would go with Odor. He’s been the Rangers every day second baseman since 2014. It will be interesting how he transitions across the diamond.

Outfield: LF David Dahl, CF Leody Tavares, RF Joey Gallo

This can very well be an elite group defensively.

Dahl is coming off a poor 2020, but was an all-star in 2019. He could end up being the steal of the offseason. Tavares impressed in his debut campaign last year and we’re all hoping he is the center fielder for the next decade.

Joey had a down year with the bat, but did bring home some hardware for his glove work. It’s no secret he’s a big piece for the Rangers moving forward and the club is praying for him to evolve into the superstar they believe he can be. Right field is one of the few positions locked up as we inch towards the beginning of April.

Designated Hitter: Willie Calhoun

Willie had a forgetful 2020 hitting just .190 with a single home run. But this is a guy who posted a .848 OPS in 2019 with 21 home runs in just 83 games. Most guys who had bad years in 2020 are getting a pass. Couple the weird season with a broken jaw in Spring Training last season and Willie is off the hook.

The Texas Rangers really need 2019 Calhoun back as a threat in the lineup. That gives Gallo protection. The DH position could be a platoon between Calhoun and Khris Davis.

Bench: DH/OF Khris Davis, C  Jonah Heim, IF Anderson Tejeda, UT Charlie Culberson

As Ranger fans, we’ve seen too much of Khris Davis. Now he’s a good guy! He’ll almost certainly be on the Opening Day roster, but can he put together a strong March and get the nod to start Opening Day?

Heim was picked up in the Elvis trade. He has 38 MLB plate appearances on his resume and boasts some really good defensive and hitting tools.

The other two spots go to Tejeda and Culberson. Tejeda is just 23 with some pop in his bat and a strong arm at short. He could benefit from more regular ABs in the minors. Culberson is a proven big leaguer looking to reestablish his career.

Starting rotation: Kyle Gibson, Kohei Arihara, Dane Dunning, Wes Benjamin, Kolby Allard

More from Texas Rangers

The rotation has lots of question marks. You can pencil in Gibson, Arihara, and Dunning. The 4 and 5 spots are up-for-grabs.

I’ll go with Benjamin and Allard, but also look for Jordan Lyles, Mike Foltynewicz, Kyle Cody, or possibly Taylor Hearn to crack the rotation.

Gibson is the only veteran among this bunch. Arihara should eat innings. Dunning could be a stud. Benjamin and Allard have little experience with varied results. Don’t be surprised to see 10-12 pitchers start games for Texas in 2021.

Bullpen: Jordan Lyles, Mike Foltynewicz, Ian Kennedy, Brett Martin, Joely Rodriguez, Jonathan Hernandez, Jose LeClerc

Next. Who's playing 3B for the Rangers in 2021?. dark

The Texas Rangers have a sneaky good bullpen. The trio of Rodriguez-Hernandez-LeClerc could be one of the best back ends in the league. Expect to see young fireballers Demarcus Evans and Taylor Hearn really soon, if they don’t crack the Opening Day roster.

There’s some reclamation projects here in Foltynewicz (2018 all-star) and Kennedy. The bullpen may be this team’s biggest strength and possibly only get better as the year progresses.