Decision Day Comes for Roster Protection

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The MLB winter meetings last year proved to be pivotal for the Texas Rangers, as they made the sly move of stealing an unprotected minor-league infielder by the name of Delino DeShields from the Houston Astros in the Rule 5 draft, paying a mere $10,000 for him.

Of course, DeShields ended up becoming the Rangers' leadoff man and everyday center fielder, so that was definitely a win. However, what was often forgotten was the fact the Rangers lost Odubel Herrera in the same fashion to Philadelphia, and he ended up as a key piece of the Phillies roster and is a key piece of their future.

So, you win some, and you lose some. On Friday, the Rangers have to make the decision on their 40-man roster make-up leading into the winter meetings in a couple of weeks and the subsequent Rule 5 draft. If a player is on the 40-man, he can't be selected in the Rule 5 draft.

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So who do the Rangers have to protect to not lose another Herrera or their own version of DeShields? Well, it all comes down to minor-league service time, so some of the newer guys to the system are safe. However, there's one obvious candidate for inclusion on the 40-man that isn't, and that's outfield prospect Nomar Mazara.

Mazara is as much of a sure thing as you can be as a prospect, as he jumped from Double-A to Triple-A for the final month of the season a year ago and never slowed down in terms of productions. He's a future star and the Rangers won't let him get away.

It'll be interesting to see who else is included, and who the Rangers target anyone in the Rule 5 draft. You never know, they might end up with another everyday player.

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