Friday Newsletter time: Kole Calhoun's one-year deal could buy the Texas Rangers time with outfield mix
Leody Taveras and other prospects can get more seasoning in the minors with Calhoun on the roster.
The Texas Rangers didn’t sign Kole Calhoun to be a seat warmer.
Manager Chris Woodward wanted to sign the outfielder as soon as they hung up the phone last month. Woodward has admired the way Calhoun plays and loved what he heard in their initial conversation.
Calhoun is a fit as a clubhouse guy, and after dealing with injuries last season has something to prove. He’s willing to do it every day or as a part-time player. He just wants to play and lead and win.
He doesn’t know it, or maybe he does, but his presence on the roster gives the Rangers the luxury of time.
Keep in mind that they are still rebuilding. They are building up, granted, but it’s not a finished product. They still need prospects to become everyday contributors, and their most talented young outfielder could still need more seasoning in the minors.
That’s center fielder Leody Taveras, who bounced back well in 2021 after a miserable April and is playing very well in the Dominican Winter League. Though he has a year of big-league service time, the Rangers still look at him as a prospect.
And they don’t need him in 2022. Now, he absolutely can win a job in spring training. He can also look good but be told to go to Triple A Round Rock to continue working on what he learned in spring training from new coaches Donnie Ecker and Tim Hyers.
At the same time, Bubba Thompson, Dustin Harris and Aaron Zavala can also keep working toward the majors. Thompson should be at Round Rock, Harris is going to be learning how to play outfield (likely at Double A Frisco), and the Rangers could push the college-polished Zavala to Frisco by year’s end.
And, here’s another benefit of the one-year Calhoun deal: Maybe he does keep a spot warm for the return of Joey Gallo in 2023.
The Rangers hold a club option for 2023 on Calhoun, for $5 million. He might play himself into the 2023 plans, and the Rangers won’t be surprised if he does that after a rough 2021.
But there’s more to the contract than meets the eye.
According to a report in the Athletic, the owners and players union were scheduled to meet Thursday for the first time since the lockout was implemented, but the sides weren’t going to be touching on the core issues that must be addressed in the new collective bargaining agreement.
The expectation is those talks won’t begin to take place until after the holidays.
Actually, that might not be a bad thing.
Here’s a wild theory: Both sides know they have until early February to reach an agreement without putting regular-season games in jeopardy. They know what each other wants. They can line up their best strategies now, rather than the crapola that led to the lockout, and work it out in January.
While the owners imposed the lockout, the players will start to lose the PR battle the longer it goes. The players also also know that they aren’t going to get everything they want in this CBA, but they can try to make up the ground they lost in the last two agreements.
Both sides know that the stoppage is bad. It will only get worse if the sides are still far apart in early February.
Newsletter holiday schedule
Team Wilson is loading up the family truckster this afternoon and heading to the great state of Colorado, where we will watch my nephew graduate from Colorado State and then hang with the family until Thursday.
So, there’s a chance that the Newsletter will not be publishing Monday through Friday next week. There’s a chance that some of the regular features won’t be written next week.
However, there will be a new episode of the Texas Rangers Baseball Podcast with Harris, the Rangers Minor League Player of the Year, joining me and the Recliner Nerd, John Moore.
Planning is under way for January. There will be some prospect countdowns, some position previews, more T.R.’s Memoirs, more podcast episodes and hopefully some actual baseball news.
There are going to be some changes to the Newsletter, too, but nothing that drastically change how you receive and pay for your subscription.
Card of the Week
Instead of trying to find a card that fit a theme for this newsletter or this week in baseball or sports in general, I decided I would use the first card I picked up on my desk.
It turned out to be someone you know. It’s the 1973 Topps card of Hall of Fame pitcher Don Sutton.
This one came well before his 300 wins, and it appears to have come before his perm. It also looks like it was shot in spring training, which the Dodgers held back in those days at Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Fla.
These days the Dodgers hold spring training in Glendale, Arizona, about 20 minutes, depending on traffic, from the Rangers’ complex in Surprise.
As for the card, the corners are nice, but there is a fairly significant crease that goes around the silhouette in the lower right-hand corner. The card was plucked from a stack of ‘73s I didn’t know I had.
The next card in the stack was Brooks Robinson, who just happens to be one of Josh Jung’s favorite players of all time.
Me next week at my favorite hometown pizza place. Enjoy. See you next week at some point, possibly Monday.