As was bound to happen, the Texas Rangers could be found Sunday evening on Twitter and MLB Trade Rumors linked to a notable free agent.
They reportedly have interest in former Cleveland Indians first baseman Carlos Santana, a switch hitter who routinely is a top-20 guy in on-base percentage and will hit more than 20 homers a year.
Most of that power comes as a left-handed hitter, something the Rangers don’t really need, but his average and on-base numbers are better as a right-handed hitter.
Acquiring any offensive player seems fairly far down the list of Rangers priorities, unless they believe that moving their best defensive first baseman, Joey Gallo, to left field makes them better.
The Rangers, it turns out, also believe that Gallo is their best defensive corner outfielder, and if they can live with less defense at first, which all teams can, then maybe it makes sense.
Some things to consider that are more front-burner items:
▪ The Rangers like Alex Cobb more than Lance Lynn, but Cobb, reportedly, could be added to the Chicago Cubs’ rotation soon. The Rangers would prefer Jake Arrieta over Yu Darvish, though it’s close, but neither is currently in the Rangers’ price range.
The rest of the free agents don’t overwhelm the Rangers. They aren’t close to re-signing Andrew Cashner, though his agent recently checked in on the Rangers’ status on their best starter in 2017.
(The Rangers missed on Miles Mikolas despite making what they thought was an attractive offer. The former Rangers pitcher, who became a star in Japan, chose a two-year deal from the St. Louis Cardinals, who train in his hometown and have former Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux.)
A trade seems to be the more likely route for the Rangers to fill out their rotation. That, or Matt Bush. That, or a “stop-gap guy” on a one-year deal.
▪ The reliever market is the one to watch, with the Rangers in need of bullpen help and prices expected to continue to soar. General manager Jon Daniels might have to go outside his traditional comfort zone after Brandon Morrow signed a two-year, $21 million deal with the Cubs.
What will Steve Cishek and Tommy Hunter get? Or Anthony Swarzak, Pat Neshek and Jake McGee? The Rangers would be better with any of the five. It’s a matter on how far Daniels is willing to open their wallet.
▪ The Rangers will continue to look this off-season for help behind catcher Robinson Chirinos, despite having four other catchers on the 40-man roster (Brett Nicholas, Juan Centeno, native Texan Jose Trevino and Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who is listed as an infielder).
Come to think of it, Santana used to be a catcher.