This time last year in the baseball world, the buzz was about free agency and where superstars Bryce Harper and Manny Machado would land. That lasted all the way into spring training and was a 24/7 news cycle.
Now, the focus in the game is away from individual players and more of the game itself. Between the Astros getting caught banging on trash cans to let their batters know what pitch is coming, Alex Cora getting caught up in the scandal and being fired by the Boston Red Sox, the same happening to newly hired New York Mets manager Carlos Beltran, and even the allegations of buzzers on Jose Altuve’s shoulder.
Mix in the “niece” of Beltran going off on a private Twitter account and maybe the craziest rumor of them all, Mike Trout allegedly taking HGH for a thyroid problem, and you have something more entertaining than your favorite soap opera on CBS.
The quietest drama of them all throughout all of this has been current Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado. Seen as the heir on the hot corner to legend Adrian Beltre, Ranger fans have been drooling over Arenado and the possibility of him being on the roster when Globe Life Field opens in March.
Originally, the reports had come out that it was down to Texas and the Saint Louis Cardinals as the landing spot for the best third baseman in baseball.
Then, it was nobody. Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich told the Denver Post, “We have listened to teams regarding Nolan and really nothing has come of it. We are going to move forward pretty much as we expected — with Nolan in the purple and black and as our third baseman. So we can put this to bed …”
After that news came out, Arenado reached out and said he felt disrespected and did not want to be apart of the Rockies’ organization anymore.
— Thomas Harding (@harding_at_mlb) January 21, 2020
Suddenly, Major League Baseball has turned into the NBA and players are forcing their way out of their respective organizations. Arenado will more than likely force his way out of Colorado and the Rangers will continue to be a factor in the trade discussions.
Do the Rangers really need him for the upcoming future though? Texas is in a sticky situation as throughout the 2019 season, the third base position was one of the weakest on the team. Asdrubal Cabrera, Logan Forsythe, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Nick Solak, Danny Santana, and Patrick Wisdom all got appearances.
This season, it is expected to be Todd Frazier, who signed with the Rangers last week. If Texas can acquire Arenado, Frazier has the opportunity to be a quality backup player while Arenado plays every day. If not, he will be a solid hitter who gets on the base for the club.
This season is not the issue though. It is the future with Arenado’s long contract and the possibility of calling up 2019 first-round pick Josh Jung.
If traded for, the Rockies’ third baseman would be under contract until 2026, receiving as much as $35 million per year. If you are paying somebody that kind of money, they will be playing for your ball club, no questions asked.
Jung, on the other hand, is a young and exciting prospect that will be able to play third base in the major leagues. Currently ranked the 55th best prospect according to MLB.com, he is the best young player in the Rangers organization. Coming out of Texas Tech, he has currently rated a 55 overall (out of 80) with his best asset being his power and arm.
So the question will be Nolan Arenado or Josh Jung? If they go with Arenado, he would be the guy until the end of 2026 and what to do with Jung would become the next big question inside of the organization.
If the answer is Jung, then Todd Frazier is the guy throughout 2020. With Jung not expected to be ready until 2021, the Rangers would have to sign another third baseman on a short deal to help with depth before the young star fully takes over the position.
Arenado would be the flashy player for a brand new ballpark that would be the latest Jon Daniels blockbuster move in an attempt to win this organization its first World Series ring. However, using their first-round pick as a cornerstone piece could be the correct move. Beyond Jung, it would save other players within the organization – like second-ranked prospect catcher Sam Huff, who has been linked in the trade with the Rockies – who can also be apart of the next wave of talent.
Either way, the future is bright in Arlington and what will be on the field. This is a young team with position players and pitching. Arenado or Jung, the hot corner will be just fine for Texas’ team.