SURPRISE, Ariz. — Talk about quick decisions. Rangers may have answers on a few places in the opening roster by the end of the week.
Decisions will be made for them if the “couple” of unvaccinated players on the 40-man roster do not accept a Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine by Sunday. The Rangers open the season April 8 in Toronto and plan to travel the evening of April 5 from Arizona. Current Canadian government regulations for entry into the country require all non-essential visitors to have been vaccinated 14 days prior to entering the country.
Due to the short window between the start of camp on Monday and the travel date, players who have not taken a Moderna or Pfizer vaccine will not have enough time to get vaccinated. That leaves only J&J as an option. And that should be administered by March 22.
President of Baseball Operations Jon Daniels said the message to players was simple: “It is what it is. The matches are on the program and the laws are the laws.
There is another complication: the J&J vaccine, which would not be as effective as the two-dose treatments, has been difficult to find. Rangers have asked their unvaccinated players to get vaccinated before Sunday. Rangers have not disclosed which players are currently unvaccinated.
Players who do not receive the vaccine would be placed on the shortlist and not eligible for the first round. They would also not receive wages or service time.
The Rangers are still trying to get clarification from MLB on whether they can add a player who is not on their 40-player roster and then remove that player from the 40 without subjecting them to waivers. This is how MLB treated players who tested positive for COVID or were deemed direct contacts in 2020 and 2021.
Casting call: The Rangers have announced minor league deals, with major league spring training invites for outfield defense specialist Jake Marisnick, reliever Brandon Workman and starter Matt Moore. According to a source, they would also be in agreement with reliever Dan Winkler, pending a medical examination.
Marisnick, who turns 31 on March 31, can play all three outfield positions. He’s saved 75 points, according to Fangraphs, since 2013. He spent most of his career in Houston, but was split last year between the Chicago Cubs and San Diego. The right-handed hitter could be a late-game defensive backup for anyone who ends up in left field, where the Rangers currently have a hole.
Winkler, 32, pitched 39 2/3 innings in 47 games for the Cubs last year and averaged more than one strikeout per inning. He relies heavily on a slider and has traditionally been very tough in right-to-right matchups, but he gave up 25 free bases on walks (18) and hit batters (7) against 105 total right-handers.
Moore, 32, played 13 games with Detroit in 2021 and was with the Rangers in 2018. Over the past five seasons, he is 11-27 with a 5.89 ERA in 359 major league innings . Workman, 33, spent last year split between the Cubs and Boston and posted a 5.46 ERA in 29 games (28 innings).
White stripes: Here’s the rarest of rarities: positive spring training injury news. Outfielder Eli White, who underwent pitching shoulder surgery last September, may be ahead of his recovery. The things that happen when teams can’t monitor their players’ recovery during a lockout.
White showed up to camp with just a week left in his throwing schedule and started throwing the bases on Monday. He’s already swinging a bat and had perhaps the most impressive batting practice round of the day. While the Rangers knew he would be able to swing this spring, they weren’t certain to pitch.
Manager Chris Woodward said Rangers were impressed with how White applied ideas from pre-lockdown conversations with new attacking coordinator Donnie Ecker. Woodward again reiterated that White “has as high a ceiling as anyone in the organization.”
Briefly: Rangers made the return of left-hander Martin Perez official on Monday. Perez, sources say, will receive $4 million in base salary. … 2020 first-rounder Justin Foscue, who had been in minor league camp for two weeks, sat out Monday’s first practice with mild lower back stiffness.
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