Charlie Culberson and Matt Bush have both been told they will be making the Rangers’ Opening Day roster, while Matt Carpenter has been assigned to Triple-A. (Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News was among those to report the info.) The Rangers will need to make two corresponding moves to create a pair of 40-man roster spots in advance of their April 8 opener in Toronto.
The two veterans are known quantities in Arlington, as Culberson played for the Rangers last season and Bush has spent all four of his MLB seasons in a Rangers uniform. Culberson came to Texas on another minors contract last year and appeared in 91 games in 2021, batting .243/.296/.381 in 271 plate appearances and mostly playing third base, though Culberson also got a bit of action at six other positions. The Rangers will again deploy Culberson in a utility role, with Grant noting that Culberson can back up any position besides shortstop, as Marcus Semien could likely move from second base to short in the event that Corey Seager gets a day off.
Bush signed a two-year minors deal prior to the 2020 season, owing to the fact that he underwent Tommy John surgery in July 2019. He missed all of 2019 and 2020 recovering from the surgery, and then missed almost all of 2021 as well, pitching just four innings due to a flexor strain. Texas outrighted Bush off its 40-man roster after the season and he opted to remain in the organization rather than become a minor league free agent.
It’s hard to know what to expect from Bush after essentially three lost seasons, plus even a 2018 season that was cut short by elbow problems. However, the Rangers have liked what they’ve seen from the 36-year-old in camp, and it isn’t out of the question that Bush might even earn some save chances given that Texas doesn’t have an established closer.
Carpenter told MLB.com’s Kennedi Landry and other reporters that he would be accepting his assignment to Triple-A rather than taking his opt-out clause, as Carpenter figured that he would need more time to ramp up. Due to the lockout, Carpenter only signed his minors deal with the Rangers a little over two weeks ago, and “for anybody with my kind of situation, it would have been better suited to have a normal Spring Training to get more opportunities, more reps and more at-bats. So I totally understand their decision. It just wasn’t enough time to really get a good idea of what was going on. But I’m not gonna shy away from an opportunity down there [in Triple-A].”
Three years of diminished productivity for Carpenter led the Cardinals to decline their 2022 club option on his services, and Carpenter has spent the offseason completely changing his swing mechanics and approach at the plate. With only 18 PA during Spring Training, the time at Triple-A will give Carpenter a chance to “get at-bats and hopefully open some eyes with the way I’m swinging.”