One of the obvious things the Rangers needed to address this winter was their glut of left-handed outfielders. Shin-Soo Choo, Joey Gallo, Willie Calhoun and Nomar Mazara are among the notables while switch-hitting Danny Santana could also be included as well. It was often manager Chris Woodward’s job to try to figure out how to plug all of them into the lineup through the corner outfield and DH positions. While Gallo could obviously play all of his time in center field, based on his 38 games there in 2019, Texas is looking to protect their giant slugger by placing him in one of the less-demanding corner outfield spots.
It’s a lot to figure out and likely can’t be solved unless one or more of these players change positions or are even traded. While Choo has the least amount of years remaining on his contract, one at $21 million, he’ll likely be the hardest to move to another team based on his age and high salary for 2020. The stocks for Gallo, Calhoun and even the surprising Danny Santana have never been higher thanks to their performances in 2019. That leaves Mazara as the main one in question.
It’s well chronicled how most are disappointed in Mazara’s inability to take that “next step” in his career as his numbers each season are consistent but merely average for a player who has had an everyday spot in the lineup for four seasons now. In Mazara’s defense, his 2019 numbers likely would have looked better than his 2016-2018 stats if he wasn’t forced to more or less miss the final month or so of the season with lingering injuries. His 116 games played were a career low, but he still basically matched his average career numbers across the board.
Trading Mazara would likely be much easier than trading Choo. Mazara is still under team control for a couple more seasons at a much lower price than the aforementioned $21 million due to Choo. A team would be willing to take a chance on a low-cost, 24-year-old Mazara via trade, but how much would they be willing to pay?
Probably not much, unfortunately. There are still just too many questions lingering about what Mazara could possibly be for a fair trade to be found for Texas. A team tries to undercut them on price based on his lack of improvement for his four major league seasons and Texas can easily counter with the fact that he’s still just 24-years-old. Time is still on his side if the team is willing to continue giving him the chance to show what he has as a ballplayer.
With Texas’ window of true “contention” – whatever that word means – still seemingly a year or more away unless they go all out in spending in free agency this winter, there should still be some patience involved with development of players like Mazara. However, there’s a glut of seemingly equally, if not more, talented players trying to play the same positions on the roster. Injuries more or less solved the conflict in 2019 with someone needing to go on the IL anytime playing time was about to be a major concern, but Texas will need to address the issue heading into 2020. Dallas Morning News reporter Evan Grant dropped a pretty big nugget this week regarding how Texas could handle the logjam in the outfield.
Just saw Nomar Mazara. Said Rangers mentioned 1B to him at end of season as a possible occasional spot. He's prepared to do some work there when he starts back on field in December. But he's still primarily an OF.
— Evan Grant (@Evan_P_Grant) November 22, 2019
“Possible occasional spot” are not exactly words that confirm Mazara will be at first base in 2020, but it is certainly interesting that the Rangers have communicated to him it’s a possibility. Ronald Guzman logged the most games at first base for Texas in 2019, but his development at the plate was even more disappointing than Mazara’s. If Mazara could find his way into the lineup six times a week with something like twice in the outfield, twice at DH and maybe twice at first base, it might be a way to keep him involved with the team going forward.
Who knows if Mazara will even be on the team by the time the 2020 season starts, but if he is, there’s no shame in broaching the idea of him at first base now.
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