Wednesday Newsletter time: As Texas Rangers consider adding another outfielder, what about the ones they already have?
If the Rangers sign Seiya Suzuki, players such as Leody Taveras, Nick Solak and Andy Ibanez could be left out.
Don’t tell this to John Moore, conductor of the Seiya Suzuki train, but it’s entirely possible that a team other than the Texas Rangers signs the star outfielder from Japan.
They would like to have him. They believe he will hit, maybe not for the 38 home runs he hit this season in Nippon Professional Baseball but better than some of the more recent hitters to make the NPB to MLB transition.
Shohei Ohtani is the obvious exception.
But let’s say the Rangers don’t get Suzuki or Kris Bryant (perhaps too pricey after signing Corey Seager and Marcus Semien) or Nick Castellanos (qualifying offer).
What happens in left field?
The answer could be whatever happens in center field.
The Rangers don’t want Adolis Garcia to be their center fielder. He’s too big, and the position is too punishing on a big body. They believe Garcia was fatigued late last season, when he slumped badly, after playing mostly in center before the Joey Gallo trade.
Leody Taveras still has a big fan club within the organization. He’s only 23. He was rushed to the majors, and that showed in 2021. But he is their best defensive outfielder, can absolutely fly and has some power from both sides of the plate.
He needs to continue to have a productive winter and also take to whatever bench coach/offensive coordinator Donnie Ecker and hitting coach Tim Hyers suggest in spring training. If Taveras does that, if he has a great spring, he could be the center fielder even if Suzuki or Bryant is added.
The Rangers could also play some combination of Willie Calhoun, Nick Solak and Andy Ibanez in left. That trio could occupy left field and designated hitter.
Eli White is another speedy, defensive-minded outfielder, but he’s coming off an elbow injury.
Solak played the outfield in 2020, looked as if he had never played it, but kept making plays. Ibanez played left field at times in the minors and in a few big-league games in 2021.
Maybe they play there if Taveras starts at Triple A Round Rock with the intention of him joining the big-league team after a few more months of seasoning.
Maybe the Rangers sign Suzuki or Bryant. But it’s possible they don’t.
Winter ball update
Speaking of Taveras, he entered Tuesday batting .288 with a .382 on-base percentage and a .387 slugging percentage through 30 games this winter for Aguilas. Of note is that he had 16 walks and only 18 strikeouts. That looks like progress.
The best of the Rangers players this winter, either on the 40-man or minor-leaguers, has been first baseman Blaine Crim. It’s not even close.
He entered Tuesday with a .398/.446/.590 slash line for Mayaguez in the Puerto Rican Winter League. Also of note is that Crim, who finished his season at Double A Frisco, had played four of his 22 games at third base.
Three other minor-leaguers are playing in Puerto Rico — right-hander Noah Bremer (Caguas) and infielders Keyber Rodriguez (La Guaira) and Kenen Irizarry (RA 12). Bremer pitched for Frisco last season, Rodriguez was at Low A Down East, and Irizarry played in the Arizona Complex League.
One of the feel-good stories from last season, and a success story for Rangers players development, was how first baseman Curtis Terry turned himself into a viable option for the big-league club after almost giving up on baseball after three straight seasons at extended spring training to start his pro career.
Terry finally reached the majors in 2021, and though he didn’t fare particularly well after a monster first half at Round Rock, he was the map. But he lost his 40-man spot last month, becoming a minor-league free agent, and has signed a minor-league deal with the Minnesota Twins.
The Twins have a new tie to the Rangers, former bench coach Jayce Tingler. He was hired by the Twins last month after two seasons as the San Diego Padres manager, and knows Terry well.
This is one of those baseball things that happen every offseason. Terry is a player and person the Rangers didn’t want to see go, but they will be fine without him. However, his departure does create a hole in the minor-league depth at first base.
Here’s wishing him well.
It’s an easy fix in exchange for hours of entertainment. Totally worth it. Enjoy. See you Thursday.