Nomar Mazara Trade W/Chi Sox Alleviates Crowded OF

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Late Tuesday, Dec. 10, the Texas Rangers executed a trade sending OF Nomar Mazara to the Chicago White Sox, in exchange for Minor League outfield prospect Steele Walker.

It was a known issue that the Rangers outfield was lefty heavy at the corners. Per Texas skipper Chris Woodward, it was possible some “tough conversations” would present themselves.

Reports stated that corner outfielders Mazara, Shin-Soo Choo and former L.A. Dodgers prospect Willie Calhoun could be used as trade pieces, but it was Mazara who eventually made his way out.

Why Mazara?

Although Choo produced well enough to hold some value, the 37-year-old veteran leaves much to be desired defensively. However, statistics are irrelevant in this case. Choo is going into his final season of a 7-yr. deal, after which he becomes an unrestricted free agent. Not ideal for the ChiSox. A Nomar Mazara trade at least provides an additional season of production before free agency if he isn’t already extended before then.

Willie Calhoun solidified his place in the organization with consistency at the plate and security in the outfield. Slashing .269/.323/.524 on the season, Calhoun finally lived up to his expectations. The unexpected were the 21 home runs in 337 plate appearances. Choo went yard 24 times in nearly twice as many appearances. Mazara hit only 19, but with 123 more plate appearances than Calhoun.

2016. 266. 320. 419. 73993
2017. 253. 323. 422. 74590
2018. 258. 317. 436. 75396
2019. 268. 318. 439. 78696
Career. 261. 320. 435. 75493

Although Nomar Mazara finished the 2019 season with career highs in both batting average and slugging percentage, in his four years in Texas he simply didn’t improve to the level he was expected. Personally, I would argue that Mazara has an elite outfield arm and better than average defense. In 878 innings during the 2019 season, he committed a single throwing error, none fielding. Add to that his .996 fielding percentage. Despite that his subpar speed is most certainly a liability in the outfield. In my 1B Positional Breakdown, I made mention that moving to 1B could and should be a goal for Mazara. Writing as a fan, I will miss Nomar and wish the best for him.

Steele Walker, Texas Ranger

Sorry, couldn’t help myself. The newest member of the Texas Rangers organization, Steele Walker, has been assigned to the AA Frisco RoughRiders. Hailing from Prosper, Texas, the 5’11, 190 lb. center fielder played his college ball at Oklahoma. He comes in as the Rangers #12 prospect after ranking #6 in the White Sox pipeline. It should be noted most the of top prospects in the Rangers organization have not played above Single-A. In his 2 MiLB seasons, Walker shows .265/.338/.423 batting line. Initial scouting reports describe him as “a high contact bat with an ability to spray line drives across all fields thanks to above average bat speed and a compact stroke. Though not a burner, he shows good feel on the grass and on the bases and should be an asset in all facets of the game. Due to his size, Walker projects to have average power.”

What you may be thinking is, “If we traded Mazara due to having a lefty heavy outfield, why are we trading him for a left-handed outfielder?”

At first thought, Walker may be someone the Rangers view as a planted seed for a season or two down the road. We don’t know what will happen with DH Shin-Soo Choo after his contract is up, but Walker does not appear to be a “right now” kind of player. He still has plenty of time to mature and add to his skill set before he can even think of making a big league roster.

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