The Rangers had a hole at third base. Their last guy decided to retire. He was pretty good. Then he had to go and get old.
So, how do you fill the Grand Canyon-sized hole left behind?
The Rangers could have gone big and filled it with Manny Machado, who would immediately become the best player on the Rangers this year and for years to come. And they wouldn’t skip a beat in production.
It’s doubtful anyone currently in their farm system at any level could match the talent level of Manny Machado. One, because he is a unique talent and there aren’t too many organizations out there that have this sort of talent right now. Two, the current Rangers front office has yet to show the aptitude to draft and produce talent this special.
But signing Machado would cost a lot of money. Money that could be better spent spread out over dozens of mediocre pitchers.
The Rangers could have filled their third base void with a player of the magnitude of Mike Moustakas. He’s not Manny Machado but he’s better than anything the Rangers currently have. He would give the lineup an immediate, significant upgrade. But that doesn’t seem to be what they are looking to accomplish.
The Rangers, instead, decided to go with the plug-and-play method. Grab an able-bodied candidate and stick him there for now. They have signed Asdrubal Cabrera.
Look, you can do a lot worse than Asdrubal Cabrera. But you could also do a lot better. It’s just that this is such a yawner.
Hearing they’ve signing Asdrubal Cabrera to be the Rangers new third baseman team is like hearing they’ve hired the kid who played Screech on Saved by the Bell to appear in the cast of your favorite show.
At one time, Cabrera was among the top all-around middle-infielders in baseball, a good hitting, slick fielding shortstop who seemed to make highlight plays nightly. But his offense has slowly declined.
He’s coming from Philadelphia, where he was traded at the deadline from the New York Mets to give the Phillies more infield depth for their playoff run, which fizzled out. In 49 mostly forgettable games as a Phillie, he hit .228 with a .286 OBP.
The 33-year-old switch-hitting Cabrera has a career .269 average, and averages 17 home runs, 75 RBIs, a .330 on-base percentage and an OPS of .754.
He’s played twelve seasons in the big leagues, the first seven, and most successful of his career, with Cleveland, where twice he was named to the All-Star team. He’s also been with Washington and Tampa Bay in addition to the Mets and Phillies.
Mostly a shortstop throughout his career, Cabrera has played third the last two seasons, as well as second.
He signed a one-year deal worth $3.5 million to be the next Rangers third baseman—a thankless task being asked to replace a legend.
But let’s look at this optimistically. Next off-season, third baseman Nolan Arenado should be available. The Rangers are simply saving their money for him.