Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
The Texas Rangers have declined Alex Rios’s Option. Rios will not be a Texas Ranger in 2015. This comes as little surprise given Rios’s poor 2014 performance. Rios sported a disappointing .280/.311/.398 slash line. He was basically a replacement level player with only 0.2 WAR over 521 plate appearances. Rios hit a near league average 92 wRC+ with only 4 homeruns. (fangraphs)
Rios had a much better first half. He hit 109 wRC+ and 1.0 WAR. He struggled with some minor injuries in the second half which partially explains his drop off but it seems like Rios’s tendency to be apathetic on losing teams contributed to his poor play.
Rios’s option was for $13.5 million in 2015 and his play simply did not justify the salary. Rios tends to seem like a poor team member but he certainly had bright moments in Texas after being traded from the Chicago White Sox in 2013. It is always hard to gauge Rios’s demeanor but it seems it wanted to remain a Texas Ranger.
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
So who will play right field for the Texas Rangers in 2015? Most likely it will be Shin-Soo Choo who is apparently more comfortable in right than he is in left. That leaves left field up for grabs. The Rangers were fortunate to have some rookies some stuff in the second half of 2014. Ryan Rua and Jake Smolinski both had nice MLB debuts. Could one of them land the starting job in left field? If they continue to produce like they did in 2014 they certainly could. Realistically, neither was expected to be as good as they looked in 2014. The team is likely to trust their long term scouting on the two rather than the small sample of 2014. If they impress in spring training though, they might get a chance. Personally, I would wager that Rua’s production is more sustainable than Smolinski’s.
Another in house option is Michael Choice. Although he was one of the worst major leaguers in 2014 with -2.1 WAR, the team acquired him with the hopes of him becoming a starting corner outfielder in the near future. Often a player’s first time around the league is a trying time. Choice is by no means out of chances. He will have more opportunities to prove himself to Texas.
There are few good options on the free agent market. Nelson Cruz is the most appetizing option among established major league outfield free agents. Cruz is going to be coming off an incredible season and many teams will pursue him. We know the front office tried three separate times to acquire Cruz last year, who ended up taking a lesser deal with Baltimore because he wanted to wait out the market. Other interesting options include; Torii Hunter, Melky Cabrera, Mike Morse, Delmon Young, Colby Rasmus, and Nori Aoki. All of these options have significant question marks surrounding them. Hunter, Cabrera and Rasmus are options I would not mind seeing the team pursue.
Of course, the team could bring back Rios on a smaller deal but the outfielder might not be inclined to take an offer after being declined by the team.
The most intriguing option is Cuban born Yasmany Tomas. The team has already shown interest in Tomas. They have had scouts at some of Tomas’s workouts. The team has shown the propensity to pull the trigger on established overseas talent like Yu Darvish and Leonys Martin.
Given the success of Jose Abreu, Yoenis Cespedes, and Yasiel Puig, the interest in Tomas will be high. Tomas is only 27 and could be a middle of the order power, from which the Rangers could greatly benefit. Hopefully, this is a signal that the Texas Rangers will pursue Tomas.