Joe Palumbo Augments Rotation Depth
The addition of Corey Kluber to the Rangers' rotation, via a three-player December trade with the Indians, took away the pain of missing on free agent third baseman Anthony Rendon and boosted expectations.
It also gave the Rangers a fifth proven starter, which they believe will help them have a chance to win every game and contend for the postseason.
But the acquisition also effectively dashed the Opening Day roster hopes for a group of prospects who at the end of last season were expected to occupy at least one spot in the rotation.
"We're stacked," lefthander Joe Palumbo said.
Palumbo and fellow southpaws Kolby Allard and Brock Burke are now likely to start the season at Triple-A Nashville.
What they will give the Rangers for the first time in many seasons is quality rotation depth. Manager Chris Woodward said that he quickly picked up the phone after the December trade for Kluber to remind the young pitchers of the value they can bring to the club.
How many teams watch their five starters on Opening Day avoid the injured list for an entire season?
"Someone may go down. It's just a fact," Woodward said. "If we don't, we're one of the few teams in the history of baseball that's ever gone through an entire season without a sixth guy pitch.
"One thing I've stressed to them is to be ready and to expect that they're going to make an impact on our major league team. Whether that's in April or June or July, a lot of that has to do with circumstance."
Palumbo said that his plan this spring is to compete, not just with Allard and Burke but with the big league rotation of Kluber, Mike Minor, Lance Lynn, Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles.
"I'm just looking forward to going to spring training and competing alongside those guys," said Palumbo, who made his big league debut last season. "You compete with everybody. We're all competing for the same thing.
"I'm just going to control what I can control. I'm just going to go out there and make the best possible impression I can."
— The Rangers hired former big leaguers Darwin Barney and Bobby Wilson as managers at Triple-A Nashville and Double-A Frisco even though neither has any managerial experience. Barney was in Rangers spring training in 2018, and Wilson caught for Texas in 2015 and 2016.
— Catcher Sam Huff, the Rangers' No. 2 prospect, is among eight internal non-roster invites to spring training. It is his first appearance in big league camp.