With about five weeks to go before spring training, the Rangers are still looking for that bat. They are still looking for that left fielder.
Most of the left fielders that would cost them only money—the free agent kind—are gone. There are a few remaining, though.
Trading for a guy like Bryan Reynolds, which they have reportedly asked about, will cost prospects. Apparently, a boatload, if the reports of what the Pirates want for their All-Star left fielder are true. While he is good, he’s not that good.
Still available in the free agent market are Trey Mancini, David Peralta, and Tommy Pham. Oh, and Jurickson Profar.
By most accounts, the Rangers offensive production in left field was the worst in all of baseball, or near the bottom. So, any of the free agents still available would be an upgrade.
Trey Mancini is intriguing. While he mostly played first last year, with Baltimore then with Houston, he has spent considerable time in left. Mancini is a cancer survivor, who was a great story of hope and inspiration with the Orioles. He seemed to be the face of the franchise until they surprisingly shipped him off to the Astros at the trade deadline. Maybe it was shellshock, but Mancini dropped his meat in the dirt with Houston. So, the Rangers conundrum is which Mancini would they get if they signed him? Mancini, who bats right, will be 31 when the season starts, and has a career OPS+ of 113. He’ll drive in about 70 runs per season, hit around twenty homers.
Peralta bats left, hits a ton of triples, has a career OPS+ of 111, won a Gold Glove in 2019, but his splits are pretty lopsided. He hits right handers really well. Not so much lefties.
The 35-year-old is not a long-term option. But the Rangers have some outfield prospects, so they don’t need a long-term solution.
Tommy Pham will be 35 when the season starts as well. Pham was a very good alternative in left earlier in his career when he was with St Louis and Tampa Bay. He had power, was an on-base guy, played good left field, stole some bases. He finished eleventh in MVP voting in 2017. But he was stabbed in a horrible incident outside a strip club in October of 2020 and really hasn’t been the same player since. He won’t help the Rangers much more than what they already have.
Left field has been dead zone for the Rangers for too many seasons. This long, horrible stretch of six-years’ worth of misery, is expemlified bu the long, horrible parade of left fielders the Rangers have run out since 2017: Delino DeShields, Ryan Rua, Drew Robinson, Willie Calhoun, Scott Heineman, Nick Solak, Rob Refsnyder, Eli White, David Dahl, D.J. Peters, Jason Martin, Ronald Guzman, Josh Smith, Brad Miller, Elier Hernandez, Zach Reks, Steven Duggar, and Steel Walker. Oh, and Bubba Thompson, who figures to play center this year.
No wonder the previous GM was fired.