In past years, the MLB offseason would be described as slow, boring, or somewhere in between. This offseason, however, has been the exact opposite. The Rangers have cashed in on the fast-moving market, specifically in the starting pitching side of the spectrum landing both big-ticket free agent Jacob deGrom and crafty lefty Andrew Heaney.
The Rangers still however have a pretty substantial need, and that is a left fielder who can slide into the middle of the order. Bruce Bochy alluded to this on Monday in a meeting with beat writers at Globe Life Field saying “I think it’s going to be a consistent lineup, if we do add, sure, that’d be great, but if not, I think we got some pieces that can get it done”.
So the question is “Who are the Rangers going to add’ and how will they do it?. Well, there are a plethora of options for Chris Young and Bruce Bochy to choose from and today we’re gonna break all of those down.
Michael Conforto – The case of Michael Conforto is a very interesting one. The former Met missed all of the 2022 season after turning down a qualifying offer from New York last offseason and then suffered a shoulder injury which led to him not signing with a team. Conforto opted not to play in 2022 but instead to recover and play in the 2023 season and that’s basically where we are now.
The Rangers have had an interest in Conforto for a good while now, as they made him an offer in the middle of the summer last year and are now back in on him again this winter. The biggest hurdle for Texas is that they are not alone. Multiple teams have expressed interest in Conforto and with the likes of Andrew Benintendi, J.D Martinez, Michael Brantley, and Joey Gallo off the board, his market is being driven up.
I believe the chance of the Rangers getting Conforto on a team-friendly contract is becoming less and less likely. Texas is looking for a 1-2 year bridge before the likes of Aaron Zavala and Evan Carter make their way to Arlington. With that being said I think landing Conforto on a team-friendly deal would be a grand slam but I do think that is becoming a slim reality.
Sticking with the young kids – Another real possibility is that the Rangers will stick with their young kids to play left field this year. Texas has a plethora of options like Bubba Thompson, Josh Smith, Ezequiel Duran, and more to hold down left field this year. Bubba Thompson could prove himself as a true leadoff hitting left fielder if he can improve his on-base percentage this season. Both Josh Smith and Ezequiel Duran got looks in left field last season and could see a leap in production entering their first full season in the bigs. The truth is, if the Rangers want to stick with the kids in left field then they certainly have the tools to do so.
Other Free Agent Options – Free agent outfield options do exist but it is very slim pickings. Former Ranger Jurickson Profar is still available but I’m not sure how interested the Rangers are in a reunion. Profar did not perform terribly with the Padres last year, slugging .244/.331/.391 with 15 homers and 58 RBIs and he would provide some versatility but I still think this is unlikely. Another name that is out there is Adam Duvall but that’s honestly just me speculating, I’ve always thought Duvall was one of the more underrated players in baseball in recent years and I’d like to see him get a shot here in Texas but I also don’t see that as being very likely either. Ultimately as far as free-agent outfielders I think it’s Conforto or bust.
The Trade Market – We’ve all been speculating when it comes to the Rangers making a trade. We know the “Overcrowding” that this organization faces right now and eventually a trade will have to be made. Could it be a trade for an outfielder? There are possibilities out there. Many fans have been speculating about a possible trade for Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo. The Boston lefty was pretty good last year hitting .280 with 74 RBIs. Being able to play all three outfield positions makes Verdugo a pretty good fit here in Texas. Another option for the Rangers could be Arizona Diamondbacks’ outfielder Daulton Varsho. The big righty is a pretty underrated player in the league as he went on to hit 27 home runs and drive in 74 runs last season. If the Rangers do so choose to look into the trade market for an outfielder it’ll be interesting to see which one they decide to go with and how much they are willing to give up for a bat.
The Rangers’ front office has a plethora of options to fill their left-field situation. Will they pay the ever-increasing price for Michael Conforto? Do they look for another external option? Or do they decide to stick with what they already have? Only time will tell.