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Is it flight or fall for Ronald Guzmán and the Rangers?

Photo: Kelly Gavin/Texas Rangers

Is it flight or fall for Ronald Guzmán and the Rangers?

On December 10, 2020, the Rangers made a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays to acquire first baseman Nate Lowe. What about Ronald Guzmán? Guzmán’s rookie season ended fine. Guzy finished 2018 with an on-base percentage over .300 and an OPS over .720. While Ronald’s next few seasons had similar lines, the question is, was there any significant improvement?

Guzmán’s 2019 didn’t start too well and ended up pulling a hamstring. The injury forced Guzy to miss a month of the season. When he came back, he struggled to keep the batting average over the Mendoza line, and ultimately the team optioned him to AAA for a month. Guzmán ended September with a couple of three-hit games, something he hadn’t previously done all season. The Rangers started 2020 with Todd Frazier at first base to accommodate Isiah Kiner-Falefa, which left Guzmán out of the big leagues until late August (he played one game in July). Guzman had a promising start to the comeback but scuffled midway in September, leaving him with a similar line to previous years.

Defensively, Guzmán is a beast. His nimble flexibility allows him to be one of the best first basemen I’ve seen from a defensive standpoint. However, the offensive production makes him a questionable part of the opening day roster and could have him hit waivers. What about a position move? Well, according to what Chris Woodward told me, Guzmán sparked that conversation.

“He power shags in the outfield all the time. He’s like, I can play the outfield if you need me to. “.Wait, Guzmán playing the outfield? Well, for Guzy, it’s not that unfamiliar of a position. Since his signing in 2011, Guzman played four games in the outfield (all four games between 2012-2014). Guzmán played outfield in the early-2010s, and while now he prefers first base, if he had a choice seven years ago, he’d play outfield.

“If you asked me this question seven years ago, I’d say outfield 100%,” Guzy chuckled to me. “I fell in love with [first base] and all the work I’ve put in at first base. I feel very comfortable. I feel like I help the team in so many ways.”

Guzmán started Spring strong in his four plate appearances, including a home run off Lucas Giolitto Tuesday. For Chris Woodward, he saw a change in Guzman’s growth after an MVP award in the Dominican League this winter. “He’s maturing. That’s the biggest thing for him,” Woody said to me. “Emotionally, he’s maturing. He’s in a good spot right now.” Right now, Guzmán is battling for first base, and with the Rangers’ outfield already crowded, Guzy playing far from the infield seems unlikely. The unfortunate fact is that Ronald Guzman is out of options; therefore, if he doesn’t make the club, he goes on waivers. Does that mean he has more leeway to make this roster? Rangers general manager Jon Daniels says that’s a factor. “He’s been extremely impressive early on,” Daniels said to me. “I think the reports out of Winter Ball raved about his maturity. If this continues, he’ll get every shot to make the club.”

On Wednesday, the Rangers asked Ronald to play left field and Guzy got his first look at a non-first base position. “It’s a lot better than anticipated,” Woodward talking about watching Guzmán practice in the outfield. “When he’s running straight forward, he actually moves decent. When you watch him shag in the outfield, he runs some balls down.” Guzmán making the roster seemed more likely in any previous seasons, but the Rangers will need extra arms with a pitching staff that doesn’t look like they can eat innings like a discount buffet. That said, it’ll be a thinned bench for Texas, and unfortunately, Guzmán doesn’t control his destiny. It could depend on Nate Lowe’s performance. All I can say is Ronald Guzmán is calling, and I think we all should answer.

Credentialed Media Staff Writer covering the Texas Rangers for Dallas Sports Fanatic | 2014 University of North Texas graduate with a Bachelor's in Radio, Television, and Film. I talk about things. Find me on the tweeter @aplinckTX

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