Middlebrooks among 4 cleared from 40-man

Middlebrooks among 4 cleared from 40-man

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have cleared four spots on their 40-man roster by outrighting pitcher Paolo Espino, infielders Phil Gosselin and Will Middlebrooks and outfielder Jared Hoying to Triple-A Round Rock.

Gosselin and Middlebrooks have both declined the outright assignment and elected to become free agents. The moves leave the Rangers with 36 players on the 40-man roster.

Hoying is coming back for his ninth season with the Rangers after being a 10th-round Draft pick out of the University of Toledo in 2010. He has spent parts of the past two seasons with the Rangers, hitting .220 and serving as a valuable backup outfielder/pinch-runner, including in the '16 postseason.

Espino was acquired from the Brewers on Aug. 26 and had a 5.68 ERA in six relief appearances. He was 4-2 with a 4.52 ERA in 14 starts and two relief appearances at Triple-A Colorado Springs before the trade.

Middlebrooks played in 78 games at Round Rock, hitting .258 with 23 home runs, 64 RBIs and a .529 slugging percentage before being called up to the big leagues for September.

Gosselin is a five-year Major League veteran with seven years in the Minor Leagues who has been an asset to four organizations because of his ability to play multiple positions.

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.