A month of the Rangers offseason has passed, the World Series has nearly concluded, and now we enter the three and a half month layoff of Major League Baseball.
The Rangers had a little activity this month with the departure of Rangers coach and developmental field coordinator, Jayce Tinger, who’s gone to San Diego as the Padres new manager. Questions are looming regarding the state of the Rangers, but one thing Rangers fans are somewhat excited about is Joey Gallo back in action. After limited time due to multiple injuries, Gallo didn’t even clock half a season (70 games). With an All-Star appearance (and near All-Star MVP), it was an incredible climb for Joey to become a feared all-around player in the major leagues. So what is next on the horizon for Joey? What should fans look to get excited about in 2020 for “Big Joe”?
Expect more time in left field, maybe right field, but not center, and certainly not first base.
Let’s get this out of the way; Joey Gallo’s limited center field time is not because he’s incapable, not at all. I do believe Joey will get a start at center here and there, but last season Gallo started 37 games and played 309 innings in center field, most of any position he played last year. It’s difficult to tell if that’s the reason the oblique acted up, but before 2019, Gallo worked only 100 innings at center field in his professional career (majors and minors). His time in center field will not go unnoticed; Joey proved that the Rangers do have versatile options in the outfield, and his cannon arm display makes him a valuable weapon in the field, regardless of which outfield spot he’ll play. Think of this as more preservation of a talented ballplayer than anything else.
— Alex Plinck (@aplinckTX) September 29, 2019
For those questioning a place for him at first base, I think Joey makes it clear. “I don’t see a reason to me to play first base. Until I’m like 35 and too old to run around the outfield, maybe I can play first. Until then, I’m going to play outfield.” For the record, Shin-Soo Choo was not a part of this conversation.
A fully healthy Joey
A significant downside to Gallo’s 2019 was his limited time due to injury. On June 1st against the Royals, Gallo suffered an oblique that sidelined him for 24 days. Then a month later, Gallo ended up finishing his season abruptly due to breaking a hamate bone on his right wrist. According to Joey, it started acting up at the end of May, but I believe that the oblique injury help rested his wrist. Think about it, in July Joey hit .135 with a slugging percentage of .288 in 52 at-bats. Gallo had more hits in June than July (8 to 7), yet in June had 32 fewer at-bats.
I’m not making any excuses, but based on what transpired later in July and how the injury lingered for a month, it’s clear that the wrist bothered Joey the entire time. The rest, after the oblique, was short-lived, and the surgery commenced. The bright side of the wrist injury is that due to the nature of the damage and the operation, it’s not reoccurring, so the fear of another right hamate bone wrist injury is gone forever. Unless some crazy shenanigans occur, Joey Gallo”leo” should be good to go come February.
There’s more work to do
The season was an excellent stepping stone for Joey Gallo, and the fans got a look at what he’s capable of doing. However, some aspects can improve (all of us fall under this category). The outlier came with runners in scoring position. In 2019, Joey hit .174 with RISP and hit .071 with RISP and two outs. It felt like the struggles throughout the year came in higher leverage situations, but again last season was a step in the right direction. If Gallo’s success translates to higher pressure situations, then things are going to get fun in Gallo Land in 2020.
— Alex Plinck (@aplinckTX) September 29, 2019
Maybe a Vegas reunion?
It’s the offseason for everybody, and little trade talks resemble those in the hall gossip talks you kids had in high school. You know the ones you always wanted to be a part of but come in at the last second and only overhear a few words and then spread the rumor like a virus in December. A name that pops up in trade talks is Cubs third baseman, Kris Bryant. Now there’s still a lot of negotiation occurring between Bryant and the Cubs that should be resolved by the Winter Meetings. Nevertheless, if the two sides can’t agree on an extension, then the Rangers have a trade partner opportunity.
Bryant is a solid third baseman, and it could come as a reunion for him and his good childhood friend, Joey Gallo. It’s not like Gallo never had a Major League teammate from Las Vegas. Former Ranger, Drew Robinson, who the Rangers traded last offseason to the Cardinals, is a Vegas native. But, the combination of the two would create a little league reunion with the Rangers, just like last season on opening day.
The Rangers do have some work to do this offseason, the contract extension. This offseason is the first time that Gallo is arbitration-eligible, and after the 2022 season, he is officially a free agent. With the growth of Joey on the field and off the field, I’ll find it hard to believe the Rangers won’t reach out with some extension talks, but Gallo is a Scott Boras client, so I guess anything is possible. Let the baseball offseason.. Begin!
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