The Rangers were never going to sign Bryce Harper or Manny Machado this offseason. Even as a team that desperately needed starting pitching help, they were never going to touch Patrick Corbin with a ten-and-a-half-foot pole. While it’s easy to sit here and complain about the owners being “cheap” or resigning to the thought that the team will lose over 100 games this season, just take a second and try to see the positive. While they haven’t exactly solved each of their problems and made the team unquestionably better for the 2019 season, the Rangers have added talent this winter that could just sneak around and surprise some people. This trend continued with the reported signing of two-time All Star infielder Asdrubal Cabrera on Tuesday.
After Adrian Beltre retired in November and the team traded Jurickson Profar in December, the Rangers needed to fill a hole at third base. Throughout the winter there have been rumblings that they would be content with letting 27 year-old Patrick Wisdom and his 50 career at-bats man the hot corner as an everyday starter in 2019. While the team is in a full-fledged rebuild, that would not have been the most exciting way to approach the position.
In Cabrera, the Rangers are getting a veteran presence who brings a solid to slightly-above-average bat while having defensive flexibility after playing third base, shortstop and second base for the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies last season. He was dealt to the Phillies midseason and did not do particularly well in Philadelphia, but his first half with the Mets was very impressive with him hitting 18 home runs, driving in 58 runs and boasting an .817 OPS in 98 games before the trade.
The plan of Cabrera being an everyday third baseman will be a bit of an adjustment as he has played just 67 of his 1479 career games at the hot corner. He has a .951 career fielding percentage at third base, but committed no errors while playing there in 22 games for the Phillies in 2018. By comparison, third base was an adventure for Jurickson Profar in 2018 with a .919 fielding percentage and 11 errors in 51 games at third.
The signing of Cabrera for just one year and at a reported $3.5 million presents virtually no risk for the Rangers. It’s a move that continues the trend of signing players who are past their prime, but could still prove valuable either with a comeback season and/or serving as a trade chip at the trade deadline. With the signing of Shelby Miller and the acquisition of Drew Smyly, the Rangers starting rotation will be a total mystery before the season but could prove to be something to surprise people as 2019 unfolds.
A lineup that still leans heavily on young, streaky players like Joey Gallo, Nomar Mazara and Rougned Odor will undoubtedly have its ups and downs throughout a year, but adding a bat like Cabrera’s to that mix certainly can’t hurt it.
While the Cabrera signing isn’t going to steal the headlines or just send merchandise flying off the shelf, it’s a beyond solid acquisition of a player who has been one of the more dependable players in baseball for all of this decade. If there’s one thing to take from it for the pessimists, maybe just look at the one year length of the deal. It means the Rangers might be in the market for a third baseman again next winter when perennial All-Star Nolan Arenado of the Colorado Rockies becomes a free agent.
Even if Jon Daniels and the front office have their third base eyes on the potential prize of next winter, their option for 2019 could end up being very, very solid for them.
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