Offseason Simulation: Third Base Difficult to Fill for Texas Rangers
By Kenneth Nash
Final Decision and Moves
In the end, we weren’t able to fulfill our top priority of bringing in an impact third baseman during the simulation. We didn’t want to just make a trade for the sake of it nor were we willing to extravagantly overpay in free agency. Knowing that Texas still needs multiple pieces to truly contend and has a number of top third base prospects only a couple of years away, i.e. top prospect Josh Jung, we opted to go the economical and conservative route.
In our mock Texas Rangers franchise, we decided that we had a couple of players who might be able to fill the 2020 third base spot internally in Danny Santana and Nick Solak. Both are coming off exceptional seasons for the Rangers, albeit Solak’s a very small sample size, and both are in need of a full time spot. Santana earned his keep last season as a super utility man but to give him a chance at a permanent spot seemed due and third base is likely his to lose in our faux franchise.
As insurance, we also inked veterans Howie Kendrick and Jordy Mercer to contracts. Kendrick, 36, is coming off a stellar season with the Nationals in which he hit .344 in 121 games. His .966 OPS and 2.9 fWAR showed he still has the ability to produce at a high level and he can fill multiple roles for a club. He’s not a natural fit at third base anymore with first probably his best defensive spot but he can do a job when asked. The deal for Kendrick came in at two years, $12 million which sounds hefty for a 36-year old, but given his production and leadership presence, it seemed the best move given our inability to make an impact move earlier in free agency. Kendrick would be on the roster in 2020 in this sim filling in as an infielder or DH fairly regularly.
Mercer is more direct insurance to help at third base and being that there were no true minor league deals in this sim, his one-year, $1 million deal is our version of that. Mercer spent 2019 with Detroit hitting .270 in 74 games. His .747 OPS was respectable and while his 0.6 fWAR isn’t going to jump off the page, he has been a fairly consistent player throughout his career. Like Kendrick, he can play a few different spots in the field although he’s primarily been a shortstop in his career. In fact, he only has 11.1 innings under his belt at third through his time in the league but as he gets older, we thought offering him a trial at third base seemed smart considering he also can play short or second when needed.
It was by far not the simulation we expected regarding third base but our goal was to be realistic and smart in our moves for the Rangers. Knowing that we still are at least a year away from truly contending and in need of multiple pieces, throwing all our resources at one spot seemed rash and while our conservatism may have backfired a little, I’m confident in saying the future of the Rangers wasn’t jeopardized because of an infatuation with adding a third baseman.