After the baseball world was rocked on Tuesday night by the massive trade of Mookie Betts and David Price from the Boston Red Sox to the Los Angeles Dodgers, it almost seemed like the Rangers were going to be involved in the fun as a third team in the deal. Well, that fun moment of hope and excitement lasted about five minutes. As it turned out, it was the Minnesota Twins serving as team numero three in the massive deal.
So the Rangers enter the final week before Spring Training with questions surrounding who will be their starting center fielder and first baseman. With an improved pitching rotation after the additions of Corey Kluber, Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles, there is a fair mix of both optimism and concern when looking up and down the Rangers roster.
What area of the roster gives you the most confidence heading into the season?
Alex: If Danny Santana is the club’s main center field then the Rangers have a solid outfield core. Add Joey Gallo and Willie Calhoun to the mix and the Rangers have a middle of the lineup string of outfielders that create havoc in the batters’ box and on the field. Willie’s defense was solid in 2019, not tremendous, but reliable. Joey Gallo is a monster wherever Chris Woodward plays him, and Danny Santana has a Gallo-like rocket arm. The Rangers have a couple of options including Scott Heineman, who showed promise in center, and Nick Solak who could be categorized as an emergency center fielder. I’ll summarize the Rangers outfield core by a Tony the Tiger reference. They’re not good. They’re grrrreat!
Darien: I would say the starting rotation. Not only were they the most surprising group from last season, but they put up quality starts consistently, especially with Mike Minor and Lance Lynn. Because of that success last season, I wouldn’t say that was the biggest need to address over the offseason, but the front office begged to differ by adding a number of key pieces – including that of a two-time CY Young winner, Cory Kluber. All that to say, I’m most confident in this group because the five projected starters are all proven veterans (including Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles) in the majors and should offer one of the best rotations in the AL.
What area of the roster gives you the most concern?
Alex: I think the infield brings the most concern. It’ll be interesting to see what Todd Fraizer brings to the roster, but the Rangers saw consistency from neither Rougned Odor nor Ronald Guzman last season. I’m curious to see if the Sophomore Slump hits Nick Solak, similar to Guzy in 2019, in addition to which position he’ll play the most frequently. Elvis Andrus started strong, but after an excellent few months, he started faltering to a semi-okay 2019 performance. Elvis’ 2020 aims to be the season that determines which direction the club wants to go in regards to shortstop. Elvis has the starting job, no question, but a dismal 2020 could push him out of the running (much like Odor). There’s a gut feeling that the club has one more either trade or free-agent acquisition to bolster the infield or create some cushion, but the Rangers infield looks to be the weakest out of the layers of the club.
Darien: My concern is for the makeup of the bullpen. This group of guys is lackluster, to say the least. Much like last year, Leclerc is really the only guy who has good, established stuff and that carries value throughout the 162-game season. The club’s next big thing in Emmanuel Clase was shipped to the Indians for Corey Kluber. Nick Goody was acquired off of waivers but he has been nothing short of average in recent years. Not to bash the group – of course they can always prove doubters wrong, but I just don’t see it here. They performed poorly last year, posting a 5.06 ERA (24th in MLB) and nothing has been done to show that they would improve this upcoming year. Until then, we’ll sit back and watch guys like Brett Martin, Jesse Chavez and Leclerc lead this group.
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