Third base for the Texas Rangers should be locked down headed into 2016.
Of all the positions for the Texas Rangers, third base has been one of the most consistent over the past few years. Headed into 2016, that consistency appears to be continuing which is good news for Rangers fans.
As the 2016 season approaches, there is no question who will be the starting third baseman for Texas come opening day. Adrian Beltre has been mainstay on the Texas Rangers since 2011 and has established himself as a leader both in the stat book and the locker room. In 2015, Beltre hit .287/.334/.453 with 18 HR and 83 RBI all while hampered by a fairly significant thumb injury suffered in June. Beltre finished 7th in AL MVP voting in 2015 showing that the 36 year old shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
Despite the obviousness at the starting position for Texas, some still wonder about the certainty of a backup. Joey Gallo is currently listed as the number two man for the Rangers but many people think he may find him spending a large chunk of time playing in the outfield. Gallo would be the natural selection as a backup but if he transitions to more of an outfield role, Hanser Alberto could find himself filling in for Beltre. Alberto got some playing time at third last year and hit .222 in his time up with Texas. While these numbers aren’t spectacular, they’re pretty decent for a player who is currently considered 4th on the depth chart at the position.
Taking into account the fact that Alberto may not be with the big league club come 2016, Ryan Rua is actually the name floating around as 3rd on the Rangers depth chart. Rua has some experience as a corner infielder and his decent offensive production means that he could still be an asset if Beltre were to get hurt.
In the System:
Along with Hanser Alberto as a more depth based option, the Rangers also have utility veteran Pedro Ciriaco in their system. Ciriaco was signed this past offseason and is a more defensive focused option than a hitter. He has a reputation as having great range and a solid glove. He most likely won’t see tons of playing time for the Texas Rangers, but if need be, he is a good option for Texas to have to turn to.
Jurickson Profar also presents himself for another option at third base. As a solid player who can play across the infield, he adds a bit more depth to the position in case of injury.
It would be shocking for the Rangers to go after a free agent corner infielder in the couple of months leading up to opening day, but crazier things have happened. If Texas does decide to add some consistent depth, David Freese and Casey McGehee are probably the top two names available. The Rangers have actually been linked to McGehee in the past but expectations are low for a deal.
Position Grade: A-
Despite Beltre’s age and injury issues, he still can be considered one of the top third basemen in the game. He was a name in the MVP discussion despite a significant injury for the latter half of the season. Expect Beltre to remain a top player for Texas and for third base to once again, be one of the more consistent positions for the Rangers.
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