Short Term Plans at Third
In 2019, don’t be surprised if you see the Texas Rangers opt for a position-by-committee. Without a real clear-cut option, the Rangers will rely on utility infielders and guys acquired this offseason to fill the void.
The Texas Rangers acquired Patrick Wisdom from the St. Louis Cardinals in a swap deal that saw Texas part ways with Drew Robinson. Wisdom, 27, spent 2018 predominantly with the Cardinals Triple-A affiliate, Memphis. In 107 Triple-A games, Wisdom hit .288 with an .843 OPS. He hit 15 homers and did a good job getting on base but struggled with his strikeout rate, whiffing just over once per game. Defensively, Wisdom can play all around the infield which makes him a viable option at third that can also fill in for other guys on the infield when they need a day off. As a right-handed hitter, he can add some balance to the lineup. I’d expect him to be the favorite to fill the spot starting the year. He’s also listed as the starting third baseman on the depth chart for whatever that’s worth.
Texas signed Nolan Fontana to a minor-league contract earlier this week after he spent 2018 with the Angels organization. Fontana, 27, appeared in 45 games for Triple-A Salt Lake hitting .234. He’s not much of a power threat with just 3 home runs in those games but he did manage 40 walks evidenced by his near .400 on-base percentage. Fontana, like Wisdom, can play throughout the infield. Despite his good on-base numbers, he’s a left-handed hitter which isn’t ideal for a lefty-heavy lineup. He has a non-roster invite to Spring Training but I wouldn’t expect us to see much of Fontana in Arlington.
The Rangers picked up Jack Reinheimer on a waiver claim from the Chicago Cubs this offseason. Reinheimer, 26, spent 2018 between Triple-A and the Majors most recently a part of the Mets organization. In 21 games at the Major League level with the Mets, Reinheimer hit .167 in an admittedly small sample size. Another utility infielder, Reinheimer probably gets the edge over Fontana because he’s a right-handed hitter. Additionally, he’s on the 40-man roster like Patrick Wisdom. Reinheimer will probably get some action at third next season acting as a utility man for the club.
Isiah Kiner-Falefa played third base on occasion for the Rangers last season as the club’s main utility man. However, all expectations are for him to be Texas’ starting catcher in 2019 and spend the majority of the season there. He probably will see some time at third next season but it will be limited to days off behind the plate.
Just so you know that I’m not ignoring him I put Joey Gallo on this list. He’s not going to play third next season though. The club has no interest in him playing there long-term and Joey Gallo has no interest in returning to the position.
White, 24, is probably the most intriguing option at third base for the Rangers. White was acquired from the A’s as part of the Profar deal and post-trade, slots in as the number 12 prospect in the Rangers system according to MLB Prospect Watch. White tore up Double-A last season hitting .306 with a .838 OPS in 130 games. He’ll start the year with Frisco I’d imagine with the Rangers wanting to take their time developing him. However, if none of the other options are panning out and Texas deems White ready, don’t be shocked if he makes his way to Arlington at some point in 2019.