Tuesday Newsletter time: Texas Rangers continue to plan for spring training. Let's lend a hand on internal camp invites.
The group in 2021 was large and filled with top prospects. That could be the case again this year.
The lockout continues to threaten an on-time start for spring training, though some hope developed Monday that maybe it won’t be delayed too much.
More on that below.
In the meantime, the Texas Rangers have been planning for spring training — as much as they can. One idea is for the coaching staff to head to the Surprise Recreation Campus in Arizona as if the labor dispute will be resolved.
If nothing else, the coaches can work with the minor-league players who either have already arrived or will be doing so before mid-February.
Some of those minor-leaguers will be invited to big-league spring training as internal non-roster invites. During a normal offseason, that news would have been delivered by now or would be in the coming days.
Let’s go ahead make our own list.
Infielder Davis Wendzel and outfielders Bubba Thompson and Steele Walker were in camp, too. Left-hander Jake Latz was another. Right-handed relievers Fenery Ozuna and Alex Speas were also invited.
Camp will be different in 2022 than 2021, and that could mean fewer prospects receive invites. Minor-league camp was delayed by COVID-19 until after big-league camp was done. Not wanting their top prospects to miss any development time, a larger-than-normal group of players were internal invites.
There were 17 them.
Wendzel, Thompson, Walker and Latz are close to the majors. The last three are also eligible for the Rule 5 draft, which must be held at some point between the end of the lockout and the start of camps.
Would the Rangers invite first-round pick Jack Leiter, who has yet to throw a pitch as a professional, or Dustin Harris, the Rangers Minor League Player of the Year in 2021 who has yet to play above A ball? Will shortstop Josh Smith, acquired in the Joey Gallo trade, get a nod with so many infielders already on the 40-man roster?
And there are always extra catchers added to the roster. Who will be there this year?
My guess, not including those eligible for the Rule 5 draft: Jung, Foscue, Winn, Wendzel, Smith and first baseman Blaine Crim; pitchers Leiter, Speas and Kyle Cody; and catchers David Garcia, Matt Whatley and Yohel Pozo.
If Thompson, Walker, Latz and Cole Ragans are still in the organization after the Rule 5 draft, they will get an invitation, too.
That makes 16 internal invites, one less than last season. Catcher Cody Freeman would be a potential 17th.
That feels like too many, but it’s not a stretch to think most of them could be in the majors in 2022 in some capacity. Leiter, Ragans and the catchers are least likely.
The Rangers will also be signing several minor-league free agents and inviting them to camp. They are usually veteran starters and relievers, some infielders and outfielders, and a few catchers.
Screen shot this and remind me how I did. On second thought, scratch that idea.
Good labor news
The MLB Players Association took the first significant step Monday toward getting a collective bargaining agreement in place, and in so doing produced a second significant step — another meeting today.
The players reportedly removed their request for a shorter path to free agency, meaning the arbitration system will stay at six years. The owners had expressed that anything less than six years was a non-starter.
The union also requested that minimum salaries be $775,000, that the luxury-tax threshold be pushed to $245 million and that there be an eight-team draft lottery.
One report said that the meeting Monday was “spirited,” meaning tempers flared. But it looks as if enough headway was made for neither side to walk away.
Meetings on consecutive days might be an indication that both sides realize how close they are to screwing up spring training and the regular season. An on-time start to spring camp is possible, though players would be cycling into camps as free agents sign and as teams strike trades.
Much work is left to get done, but meeting on back-to-back days is a good sign.
Hall of Fame prediction
The Hall of Fame Class of 2022 will be revealed around 5:15 p.m. today, when Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens will learn if they will be elected in their 10th and final year on the ballot.
It appears as if both will fall short because of their links to performance-enhancing drugs.
The latest data showed both above the 75% threshold with nearly 50% of ballots accounted for, but traditionally the unknown ballots have been decidedly against those with PED links.
David Ortiz was tracking at 84.6% and is in position to survive the unknown onslaught. Ortiz has also been liked to PEDs.
I’m not exactly going out on a limb here, but my prediction is that Ortiz barely makes the cut while Bonds narrowly misses. Clemens will be around 70%.
If Bonds and Clemens don’t make it, they still have a chance to be voted in by various Hall committees. In fact, they would be eligible this fall to be on the Today’s Era ballot, as would Sammy Sosa (PEDs) and Curt Schilling (politics).
Me, too, dawg. Me, too. Enjoy. See you Wednesday.