Players first signed at age 18 must be added to 40-man rosters within five seasons or they become eligible to be drafted by other organizations through the Rule 5 process. Players signed at 19 years or older have to be protected within four seasons. Clubs pay $50,000 to select a player in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft. If that player doesn't stay on the 25-man roster for the full season, he must be offered back to his former team for $25,000.
Tolleson, 25, was 3-1 with a 4.30 ERA in 40 games and 37 2/3 innings with the Dodgers in 2012 before missing almost all of last season because of lower back surgery. He allowed 30 hits and 20 walks while striking out 39. He relies mainly on a fastball that averages 92 miles per hour and a hard slider with good deception.
Tolleson was selected in the 30th round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft out of Baylor. He shot through the Dodgers farm system in 2011, going 7-2 with a 1.17 ERA in 57 games. In 69 innings, he allowed just 52 hits and 18 walks while striking out 105.
"Our scouting staff has seen a lot of Tolleson back to high school in Allen, on through his career at Baylor and in the Dodgers organization," Rangers pro scouting director Josh Boyd said. "He's established a long history of success with his ability to miss bats at every level along the way."
Tolleson gives the Rangers another right-handed candidate for middle relief. Right now the bullpen includes right-handers Neftali Feliz, Joakim Soria and Tanner Scheppers as the primary closer candidates and Jason Frasor in a setup role. The other right-handed candidates for the 'pen include Matt West, Cory Burns, Chaz Roe and Ross Wolf. From the left side the Rangers still have Neal Cotts, Michael Kirkman and Joseph Ortiz.
Rowen and Bonilla are also candidates after being added to the 40-man roster. Rowen, 25, went 6-1 with a 0.69 ERA in 51 appearances at Round Rock and Double-A Frisco. In 65 2/3 innings, he allowed 41 hits and 17 walks while striking out 58. He was selected in the 22nd round of the 2010 Draft out of Virginia Tech.
Bonilla, 23, also split time between Round Rock and Frisco, going 7-5 with a 4.79 ERA over 47 games. In 73 1/3 innings, he allowed 68 hits and 33 walks while striking out 106 batters. He also pitched five scoreless innings for Surprise in three appearances in the Arizona Fall League. He was acquired along with pitcher Josh Lindblom from the Phillies last offseason in a trade for infielder Michael Young.
Sardinas is the No. 2 prospect in the Rangers organization and No. 70 overall by MLB.com. Sardinas, 20, played in 126 combined games at Class A Myrtle Beach and Double-A Frisco, hitting .288 with 81 runs scored, 19 doubles, three triples, two home runs, 46 RBIs and 32 stolen bases. He is also considered an outstanding defensive player with a strong arm and excellent range.
Sardinas is blocked at the Major League level by shortstop Elvis Andrus, second baseman Ian Kinsler and utility infielder Jurickson Profar. But he is also one reason why the Rangers may possibly trade one of their Major League infielders this winter. Sardinas is hitting .354 in the Venezuelan Winter League.
The Rangers had first baseman Chris McGuinness taken in the Rule 5 Draft by the Indians last season, but he was returned at the end of Spring Training. Among possible Minor League players who could be targeted this time around include first baseman Brett Nicholas, catcher Tomas Tellis, infielder Odubel Herrera, pitchers James Reyes, Nick McBride and Ryan Rodebaugh, and outfielders Jared Hoying and Ryan Strausborger.
Cabrera missed all of last season because of shoulder surgery and has pitched in just two games in the Major Leagues for the Rockies, going 0-2 with a 11.12 ERA in two starts in 2012. He will likely get a Major League invitation to Spring Training.