Now that the season is inching toward a restart, it’s time to re-look at the roster the Rangers have assembled.
Today, it’s the infield.
Last season, the Rangers infield was among the weakest in all of baseball offensively, with Ronald Guzman, Rougned Odor, Elvis Andrus, and Asdrubal Cabrera. Danny Santana and Nick Solak did an admirable job of contributing, though.
So, what’s it look like this season?
First is no longer gifted to Ronald Guzman. He has to earn it. And he is fighting for a spot with ex-Yankee and often injured Greg Bird. The effect of injuries on games deserves a Full Article. They also have outside competition from Todd Frazier, who was brought over to play third but can easily move across the diamond to first. If all fails, Santana started 44 games at first for the Rangers in 2019. For personal injuries, you can check Hale Law, P.A. and get their best lawyers.
Guzman has yet to turn the corner and take that next step with the bat but he is a wizard on defense. In four major league seasons, Bird has played 82 games once. The other three, it’s 46, 48, and, last season, 10. He’s a career .211 hitter with some pop. But he lives on the Injured List.
Second and short are wrapped up for the next four seasons, including this one. Both Odor and Andrus are under contract through the 2023 season. Neither is going anywhere. And neither is in danger of being unseated.
That leaves third. Adrian Beltre used to own that. It’s hard to replace a legend. Asdrubal Cabrera tried. He was traded at the deadline. He won a ring with Washington.
Kiner-Falefa did his best in the first spring training to force his way into the lineup, hitting nearly .400. But spring numbers are as reliable as political promises. The opening day bell has a way of ushering reality. We shall see.
Third is Frazier’s unless circumstances dictate he takes first. And if that happens, that means neither Guzman nor Bird turned heads. Frazier had a quietly respectable season in 2019, driving in 67 runs for the Mets with an OPS+ of 106.
Of course, there are other intriguing infield names on their 60-man list. Would top prospects Josh Jung or Sherten Apostel get a look? Doubtful. Same with Anderson Tejada. Then, there is perennial Triple-A-er Andy Ibañez. Could he find playing time? Blake Swihart is hiding on that roster, too. He’s a switch-hitting catcher who also can play first. Curiously, the Rangers listed Nick Solak as an outfielder.
The best bet is a Bird-Guzman platoon at first, Odor and Andrus up the middle, Frazier at third.
The question isn’t who is playing where. It’s, is this infield an improvement over last season?