The Rangers have a rare spring off-day. Perfect time to take a look at how things are going.
Leody Taveras is injured with an oblique strain. The Rangers aren’t flush with center field options. They could move Adolis Garcia there. But the Rangers aren’t flush with right field options. If Taveras is unable to be ready for opening day, Bubba Thompson is the natural choice to play center. He certainly has the speed and the defensive ability. And his bat isn’t a big drop off. In what has been called Taveras’s breakout season, Leody’s on-base percentage in 2022 was .309. Bubba’s was .302. Neither was world beating. The Rangers also signed Travis Jankowski. Why? Certainly not for his bat. His career OPS+ is 75.
The Rangers still haven’t solved left field. They have a lot of place holders, especially if primary place holder Bubba Thompson is shifted to center. Switch-hitting Robbie Grossman, whose career numbers make him dead-on average major league hitter, seems to have the upper hand on the job. He’s an elite level hitter against left handed pitching, hitting .320 with a .436 on-base percentage, and an .879 OPS in 2022. He’s Odor-esque against right handed pitching, dropping off a cliff at .163/.253/.509. The Rangers also have Josh Smith, Clint Frazier, and Brad Miller.
Jacob deGrom had his first intensive bullpen session, tossing 35 pitches, hitting 100. Still, he has yet to pitch in a Cactus League game. But the guy is a veteran, a probable Hall of Famer, and a guy who knows how to get ready for a season. A few insignificant starts against guys in major league uniforms doesn’t matter. What matters is more starts against major leaguers in major league uniforms when the season starts.
Jon Gray tossed three scoreless innings yesterday, his first action since being bumped from his last start with back tightness. Gray should be one of the better number five starters in baseball, making the Rangers rotation as deep as it’s ever been.
The Rangers solidified the back end of their bullpen with the acquisition of Will Smith. He is a bona fide closer. Texas went into spring without one. They have a couple of maybes in Jose Leclerc and Jonathan Hernandez. Now they have three potential closers, along with 2021’s closer Ian Kennedy.
Texas has twenty exhibition games left. Plenty of time to sort out their roster, even make a deal for that elusive left fielder.
Opening day is March 30. It can’t get here soon enough.