14 pitchers who could impact Rangers' plans

Texas faces decisions on 40-man roster this offseason

14 pitchers who could impact Rangers' plans

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have six pitchers penciled into their 2018 pitching staff: starters Cole Hamels and Martin Perez, and relievers Jake Diekman, Matt Bush, Alex Claudio and Keone Kela.

Though the Rangers expect to be active and aggressive in acquiring pitching this offseason, they still must evaluate 14 other arms on the 40-man roster. A look at the 14, in alphabetical order:

Tony Barnette
After posting a 2.09 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP in 2016, Barnette fell off to a 5.49 ERA and 1.50 WHIP this season. Barnette, who turns 34 in November, was better in the second half. But was he good enough to convince the Rangers to pick up a $4 million option? That might seem to be an uncertain proposition, although the Rangers don't seem to be in position to discard pitching and relievers have a tendency to run hot and cold.

Barnette fans Judge to seal win

Austin Bibens-Dirkx
He was a great story, finishing 5-2 with a 4.67 ERA and a 1.36 as a 32-year-old rookie who served as a long reliever and spot starter after 12 years in the Minors. As heartwarming as that is, the Rangers have never been sentimental when making tough roster decisions.

Clayton Blackburn
The right-hander was acquired from the Giants in April and spent two days in August in the Rangers' bullpen without pitching. Blackburn has been a starter for seven years in the Minors and led the PCL with a 2.85 ERA in 2015. That seemed to put him on the cusp of being in the big leagues, but he has had a 4.61 ERA in Triple-A over the past two seasons. Blackburn is a strike-thrower with multiple pitches, but he is not overpowering.

Andrew Cashner
He is a potential free agent, so the Rangers must decide if they will give Cashner a $17.4 million qualifying offer. There will be a high demand for starting pitching this offseason, and the free-agent market is thin. Expect an offer to be made and then declined.

Cashner punches out Gonzalez

Nick Gardewine
The rookie right-hander got a September callup after a terrific season at Double-A Frisco. It didn't go well -- 10 hits, eight walks and three strikeouts in eight innings -- but he throws 95 mph. The Rangers love that part.

Chi Chi Gonzalez
The Rangers' No. 1 pick in 2013 had Tommy John surgery in August, so the best-case scenario is a 2019 return.

Miguel Gonzalez
He is a potential free agent, and he said he liked pitching in Texas. Gonzalez will be on a lot of teams' lists this offseason, although not near the top.

A.J. Griffin
He has shown he can pitch at the big league level, but never for an extended period of time. Three trips to the disabled list in the past two seasons have kept him from having sustained success. He is arbitration-eligible, and he shouldn't be too expensive.

Griffin K's 6 vs. Angels

Jason Grilli
He turns 41 in November and is a potential free agent. Grill is determined to keep pitching, but he wasn't thrilled with his lack of use with the Rangers.

Jose Leclerc
He was with the Rangers the entire season. He struck out 60 in 45 innings. He also walked 40. Leclerc throws 96 mph with a devastating split-finger pitch. The Rangers are eager for this kid to get under control.

Nick Martinez
This may be some sort of record. Martinez has been called up from the Minor Leagues 14 times in the past four years. He has made 68 starts and 20 relief appearances for the Rangers. He has everything intangible you want in a pitcher -- except overpowering stuff. Now he will be out of options.

Yohander Mendez
The Rangers' top pitching prospect as ranked by MLBPipeline.com handled himself well as a September callup. The plan is for him to remain a starter and begin next season at Triple-A. But offseason plans have a strange way of changing come late March.

Mendez fans Lowrie

Ricardo Rodriguez
The rookie right-hander shot up from Class A Down East to the Rangers' bullpen in mid-August. There was some euphoria over his initial success, but he was not able to sustain it through September. Still, he is another young arm who can bring it at 95 mph so -- like Gardewine --he'll get a good look in Spring Training.

Connor Sadzeck
Nobody on this list throws harder than Sadzeck, who has been known to hit 100 mph. He had mixed results after being switched from starter to reliever midway through Frisco's season, but the bullpen appears to be his future.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.