Barnette's option could be tough call for club

Barnette's option could be tough call for club

ARLINGTON -- The first two players the Rangers have to make calls on in the offseason are pitchers Martin Perez and Tony Barnette. The Rangers have a $6 million option on Perez for next season and a $4 million option on Barnette.

Perez is a sure thing for a team desperate for starting pitching. Barnette could be a more interesting decision for a club that also needs to reinforce the bullpen this offseason. The decisions aren't due until after the World Series.

"My feeling is they are going to pick it up, or they are not," Barnette said. "It's out of my hands."

Barnette, who turns 34 in November, is finishing his second year for the Rangers after being signed out of Japan. His first year went well. Barnette was 7-3 with a 2.09 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP for an American League West championship team.

This year hasn't gone as well for Barnette or the Rangers. He went into Tuesday's game with a record of 2-1 with a 4.74 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP.

However, he is 1-0 with a 2.97 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP in 26 games since returning from the disabled list on July 2. He was sidelined with a sprained ring finger on his right hand. The strong finish could offset the whole year.

"I could have done better," Barnette said. "Last year was last year, this year was this year. There are a lot of things I wish I could have done better and the team wishes we could have done better."

The sprained finger was a minor issue, and the trip to the disabled list was designed more to correct some mechanical flaws. Otherwise, he has shown to be durable.

The Rangers could decline the option and try to re-sign Barnette to a lower figure. But relief pitching can be expensive. There are 47 relief pitchers this season who are making more than $4 million. That includes Marc Rzepczynski, a left-handed specialist who signed a two-year, $11 million contract last season.

"All those options are available," Barnette said. "We'll see if it comes to that. There is no reason to rush up to the office and tell them to make a decision."

The Rangers will build their 2018 bullpen around right-handers Matt Bush and Keone Kela, and left-hander Alex Claudio. They will also have Jake Diekman back for a full season. Right-handed rookies Jose Leclerc, Nick Gardewine, Ricardo Rodriguez and Austin Bibens-Dirkx will be in the mix but hardly are guaranteed a job. Nick Martinez will be back, as both a starting and relief candidate, and he is out of Minor League options.

The Rangers will be active in trying to add to that group, although starting pitching is a bigger priority. This has not been the season Barnette hoped for, but it doesn't seem the Rangers are in a position to discard healthy arms.

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.