Tuesday Newsletter time: Three potential options for Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who looks to have no position with Texas Rangers
The infielder could become a super-utility player or he could return to a position where he had his biggest accomplishment.
Isiah Kiner-Falefa is running out of places to play.
But what else is new for the infielder, who was once told that his best chance at a major-league career was at catcher? He tried that for couple seasons, and then won a Gold Glove at third base in 2020 and was an everyday shortstop in 2021.
With the way the Texas Rangers shift infielders these days, there’s no question Kiner-Falefa could man second. He has played there some in the past.
This could go three different directions for Kiner-Falefa, the first being that he becomes a super-utility player who plays four or five times a week while Seager, Semien and Jung get days off or are rotated through the DH spot.
Kiner-Falefa would also be great to have in case a starter needed time on the injured list.
Another is that Kiner-Falefa is traded. He’s a major-league player, despite his lack of power and his streakiness offensively. Teams had been in contact with the Rangers before the lockout and will likely call again once business resumes.
The third option might be the most likely, that Kiner-Falefa is the Opening Day third baseman and holds that position for a few months. The Rangers have said that Jung, the club’s No. 2 prospect, must win the job in spring training. He doesn’t just need to win it, he needs to do so convincingly.
That was said Wednesday between press conferences.
If Jung doesn’t win the job this spring, he could begin the season at Triple A Round Rock despite his wildly impressive numbers there the final six weeks of the season.
The Rangers could do a lot worse than having a player return to the position where he recently won a Gold Glove.
The owners and players have not made public any plans to meet to resume bargaining toward a new collective bargaining agreement that would end the lockout and get baseball humming again.
As is always the case, the central issue is money. That seems silly considering how much has already been handed out this season, including $561.2 million by the Rangers, but that actually helps the players make their point.
They see too large of a gap between what the top players make and what everyone else makes. The Rangers were able to do what they did because they had only around $50 million in the budget between existing commitments and what they would owe players under club control.
The players would like to see players reach free agency sooner than six years’ worth of service time. The players want a higher luxury tax. Actually, they want no luxury tax at all, but that’s a non-starter for the owners.
But the owners would argue that those six years are vital to teams being able to afford free agents or to be able to stay competitive in smaller markets. The Tampa Bay Rays are a shining example of that.
The owners don’t want to raise the luxury tax as high as the players.
There are other issues that have come up, like expanding the postseason and, once again, an international draft. The players want to put an end to tanking, among their other ideas.
In the meantime, players on the 40-man roster can not contact the team or use team facilities or medical staff. Team employees, meanwhile, can’t contact 40-man players or discuss them externally.
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