Is it time to move on from Delino DeShields in center?
The center field position was in question for much of the 2018 season and it remains in question as 2019 approaches. Delino DeShields was terrible this past season. The speedster posted a .310 OBP, hit .216 and swiped only 20 bags. While he does play a good outfield, the Rangers can’t afford him another 100+ games next season if he continues to be so vastly unproductive at the plate.
Or can they?
DeShields may actually benefit from the lack of center field options Texas has. Really, Deshields is Texas’ only option. Nomar Mazara can’t play center field, Shin-Soo Choo can’t play center field and Willie Calhoun can’t play center field. Joey Gallo did a fine job in center in his few opportunities, but it doesn’t seem as if the organization wants to make that his permanent position.
If none of those guys can play center field then the job either goes to DeShields, a prospect, a free agent, or an acquisition. The chances of the Texas Rangers trading for a center fielder are very slim considering they already have an outfield surplus. And they’ll probably focus their free agent money on pitching, not on a starting center fielder. My guess is prospect Scott Heineman battles for the job with DeShields come spring training. Heineman was stellar between Double-A and Triple-A in 2018. MLB Pipeline named him the Rangers’ minor league player of the year.
Personally, I’d like to see Gallo play up the middle for the majority of the year. He’s young enough, fast enough, and skilled enough to handle the position.
What cannot be debated is the importance of the center field position. The Rangers better find improved production there next season.