The Texas Rangers’ offer to highly sought after free agent Anthony Rendon wasn’t enough, as the World Series Champion signed with the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday. Sources say the team and the Josh Donaldson camp are unable to agree on contract years as well. If Donaldson falls through, there are still options the Rangers could target. Let’s review some of them.
Nick Castellanos is a favorite possibility of mine, possibly more than Donaldson, due to consistent hitting on both sides of the plate. The 7th-year veteran spent most of his career in Detroit but was traded to the contending Chicago Cubs in 2019. He’s a career .270 hitter but finished 2019 with a .289 average, second-highest of his career behind only his 2018 average of .298.
By the splits, Castellanos offers a lot in the way of consistency. He would hypothetically add production in the middle of the order against LHP especially, something the Rangers have struggled with in general. In 120 plate appearances, the corner outfielder yielded a .370/.425/.713 slash against lefties, along with 8 HR. Simplified, his .343 ISO against lefty pitchers means that of all times he reached base, 34% of those appearances resulted in extra bases of some kind. Against RHP, there’s a significant drop-off, but how could there not be? Still, a .272/.318/.485 batting line is consistent with the Rangers top performers vs. RHP (Santana, Andrus, Calhoun).
Popular thought is Castellanos could make a move to 1B to supplant the struggling Ronald Guzman. While this doesn’t address 3B, it does give the Rangers a strong right-handed bat they sorely need.
Who says you can’t take a step backward in order to advance forward? Not saying Asdrubal Cabrera is a step backward, but the Rangers did have Cabrera for much of 2019. The veteran infielder was sent to the nation’s capital where he would help the Washington Nationals en route to a World Series victory. While there, he casually batted at a .323/.404/.565 tick in 124 ABs. This was, of course, much better than he fared in Texas. That isn’t to say that he couldn’t once again come in on a one-year deal while we await 3B prospects Josh Jung and Sherten Apostel to develop.
Cabrera provides the kind of power you’d expect from a league-average 3B, which isn’t a knock. Being a switch hitter, Cabrera doesn’t have an overly-dominant side of the plate, based on 2019 stats, The Rangers could target Cabrera to finally address the hold at 3B.
With Mets 3B Jeff McNeil expected to take over their 3B spot, a return to the Big Apple is unlikely for 33-year-old vet Todd Frazier. The Rangers are not linked to Frazier in any way, but in my opinion, he fits the bill as someone the Rangers could target. He’s a relatively cheap option coming off a decent season. Though known for his glove, Frazier actually finished 2019 eight points above his career batting average, at .251. Add to that his 21 homers in 499 plate appearances and you’ve got a slightly under-the-radar option. As expected, Todd does most of his damage against LHP, which again is needed in the Rangers lineup. What may surprise the casual fan is exactly how well Frazier fared vs. lefties in 2019. His .294 BA and 142 wRC+ could help him make a case as a platoon option.
The Texas Rangers could target 1 or more of these options due to various needs, including addressing the 3B situation that GM Jon Daniels has made a priority. He has also stated that getting a right-handed power bat into the lineup could be achieved at 3B or elsewhere. It still remains to be seen how the front office moves forward after missing out on Rendon and possibly Donaldson.
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