Texas Rangers Roster
- AL West
- Globe Life Field
Texas Rangers catcher Jonah Heim won't make his first Cactus League start until Feb. 28. Heim isn't injured, but the Rangers are giving him extra recovery time this spring after a long season in 2023 that culminated in the franchise's first-ever World Series championship. There's no need for the Rangers to rush Heim into Cactus League action with games kicking off this weekend. The 28-year-old switch-hitting backstop made his first All-Star team in 2023 and hit .258/.317/.438 with a career-high 18 home runs, 28 doubles, 95 RBI and 61 runs scored in 131 games for the Rangers in the regular season. In an effort to give Heim more days off early on in 2024, the Rangers may keep three catchers on the major-league roster. Although he's almost 30, Heim is a top-15 fantasy backstop.
Texas Rangers right-hander Dane Dunning will take the hill for the team's Cactus League opener on Friday against the Kansas City Royals, with Cody Bradford scheduled to follow him in relief. Dunning threw a career-high 172 2/3 innings in the regular season in 2023 over 35 appearances (26 starts) and went 12-7 with a career-best 3.70 ERA (4.27 FIP) and 1.26 WHIP with 55 walks and a career-high 140 strikeouts at the back end of the team's starting rotation. The 29-year-old relies on inducing weak contact and isn't going to overpower hitters, and he'll likely be moved to a long-relief role in the second half in 2024 if both Jacob deGrom (elbow) and Max Scherzer (back) are able to return from their injuries. Dunning is outside RotoBaller's rankings of the top-100 fantasy pitchers.
Along with Texas Rangers relievers Jose Leclerc, Kirby Yates and David Robertson, right-hander Josh Sborz will be a high-leverage option for the team in the late innings in 2024. Manager Bruce Bochy isn't placing any of the four potential closing options in any sort of order in spring training, but Leclerc and Robertson figure to have the best chance for regular save opportunities. The 30-year-old Sborz had a rough 5.50 ERA last year, but his 3.35 xERA as well as his 36.9 percent strikeout rate point to a rebound in the ERA department this year. As long as he's able to stay healthy -- he's been on the injured list five times in the last two years -- Sborz should at least be interesting for fantasy managers in holds leagues in the back of Texas' bullpen.
Texas Rangers rookie outfielder Evan Carter stepped up in a big way late last season when he was called up to the big leagues for the first time on the way to helping the team win their first-ever World Series title. He hit .306 with a 1.058 OPS in just 23 regular-season games and started every game in the postseason. However, the front-runner for the 2024 American League Rookie of the Year wants to improve against lefties in 2024. The 21-year-old went 1-for-20 against lefties last year and hit .243/.338/.257 in 70 at-bats against them in the minors. Carter is expected to start every day for Texas in left field in 2024, so inevitably he's going to face more left-handed pitchers. He'll be a strong No. 3 outfield target in fantasy drafts in a strong lineup and with the ability to steal 20-plus bases over a full season.
Texas Rangers shortstop Corey Seager (hernia) is doing some incline walking and riding a stationary bike and is hoping to be ready for Opening Day. Seager still isn't sure if he'll be ready for the first game of the 2024 regular season, but it's a good sign that he's doing some physical activities after undergoing sports-hernia surgery this offseason at the end of January. It's an injury that the 29-year-old World Series MVP suffered in the postseason. If he's not ready for Opening Day, Ezequiel Duran and Josh Smith would be two candidates to start at the 6 for Texas. Even if Seager isn't ready early on, the 2023 American League MVP runner-up should be considered a top-five fantasy shortstop after a fantastic season for the Rangers last year.