Texas Rangers: Where does Nick Solak fit in 2020?

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - SEPTEMBER 10: Nick Solak #15 of the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington on September 10, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TEXAS - SEPTEMBER 10: Nick Solak #15 of the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington on September 10, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

Nick Solak has quickly emerged as one of the best young players in the Texas Rangers organization. His bat is here to stay, but where does he fit in 2020?

Nick Solak is rapidly generating the kind of buzz usually reserved for some of the top prospects in the game of baseball. He’s lighting it up for the Texas Rangers despite being just 21 games into his big league career. The Woodridge, Ill. native has quickly emerged as one of the brightest young sluggers in the Rangers system despite joining just earlier this summer.

Solak continues to swing a hot bat hitting .347 with a stunning .460 on-base percentage. His 1.015 OPS is one of the best on the team through that stretch and has been a real eye opener among fans. The question no longer seems to be whether his bat is enough to carry him in the big leagues. At this point, there really isn’t much to question except for perhaps sample size which isn’t really anything to hold against Solak. Now the question is, how does he fit into a potential 2020 squad?

His natural defensive fit is as a second baseman. In fact, he currently is listed as the 8th best second base prospect in baseball according to MLB Prospect Watch. However, while his bat is big league caliber, questions about his glove still remain. For the Rangers so far, the majority of Solak’s time has come as the DH in the lineup, a natural fit for the 24-year old. In addition to that, he’s also played four games each at both second base and third.

He’s errorless at both positions which is a good start, but has been below average at both spots according to various metrics. Third base is the logical spot for Solak as of right now all other things being equal. The Rangers have a hole there for at least the 2020 season as of right now. Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Danny Santana are the two guys that are under contract next season that could factor in to a competition. Kiner-Falefa would have the most defensive experience at that spot and has been fairly solid. However, IKF has struggled at the plate after his breakout 2018 campaign partially due to his ill-fated time as a catcher.

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Santana, like Solak, isn’t a natural fit defensively at third and hasn’t been all that impressive in his chances. The Rangers likely will be looking to fit Santana into the lineup in some way considering he’s been arguably the best hitter in the lineup for much of the season having only recently cooled off. Texas will want to at least take time next season to confirm whether the 28-year old’s career year is an anomaly or a sign of a career revived. The benefit for Solak and against Santana is that Santana has a bit more defensive versatility as he can play most infield spots and all around the outfield.

The more controversial option for Solak is for him to get considerable time at second base either bumping Rougned Odor to the bench or at the very least splitting time with him. Odor has had a dismal season for the Rangers prompting many fans to call for an end to his time in Texas. However, the 25-year old has a nice-sized contract that will get in the way of any potential move to get rid of him. At this point, it seems Texas is somewhat content in hoping he busts out of his slump and can bounce back for 2020. His potential is still sky high in my opinion and at his best, he’s one of the best second basemen in baseball. He just hasn’t hit those heights yet.

Solak did get some time in the outfield during his stint with Triple-A Nashville but the Rangers outfield is already log jammed as it is. Fully healthy Texas has at minimum *takes breath* Joey Gallo, Willie Calhoun, Nomar Mazara, Shin-Soo Choo, Delino DeShields, Scott Heineman and Danny Santana *exhales* competing for big league time in the outfield next year. And that’s just players currently under contract for next season that are currently in the big leagues. That doesn’t count prospects that are close to Arlington, i.e. Leody Taveras, or potential offseason signings or re-signings, i.e. Hunter Pence.

As of now, I’d expect the Rangers to utilize Solak primarily as a DH in 2020 with time at third and second base as time requires. If you’re pencilling in names for your 2020 lineup he seems to be one of the ones in there right now as he’s playing as well as anybody and represents the youth movement for which Texas was hoping. The rest of this month will help cement any future plans at least for the short term. Regardless, it’s a good problem to have and probably one the Rangers didn’t really think they’d be dealing with when they dealt for Solak a couple of months ago.

dark. Next. Have Texas Rangers fans been too easy on Elvis Andrus?