Following a couple of free agent third base signings, the Texas Rangers options are starting to thin. Who can they turn to now?
The Texas Rangers continued to see their third base options on the free agent market dwindle Sunday morning as news broke that Travis Shaw had signed a one-year deal with Blue Jays. Shaw, who represented a backup option for Texas at third, signs just a few days after another potential option, Maikel Franco, signed with the Royals. Third base continues to be a hole for the Rangers, but free agency offers fewer and fewer legitimate options.
Texas entered the offseason with their sights set on Anthony Rendon to be their third baseman in 2020 and beyond. It was a pairing that wasn’t meant to be however as Rendon inked a massive contract with division rival Los Angeles. Then, in what felt like seconds, the reported bidding on free agent Josh Donaldson had gone past their comfort zone. Mike Moustakas who was a possible alternative had signed well before Rendon so the free agent market was limited in terms on names that could make an impact.
With Franco and Shaw having now signed, what options are left for Texas in free agency? In terms of fWAR, the top remaining options are Asdrubal Cabrera and Todd Frazier, both 34 and both who posted a 1.9 fWAR last season. Cabrera was with Texas in the early part of 2019 to uninspiring results. He posted a .235 average and 79 wRC+ in 93 games which eventually led to him being waived. He signed with the Nationals shortly after and was stellar for the World Series winners in 38 games hitting .323 with a 145 wRC+ and .969 OPS. A lot of those games came at second base for the Nats but he’s shown the ability to play effective third base with a 4.6 UZR/150 last season.
Frazier, like Cabrera, would be a veteran addition that could impact the clubhouse as well as the field. He spent all of last season with the Mets and played in 133 games for the NL club. Frazier hit .251 in 2019 with a .772 OPS and 1.9 fWAR. Frazier has never been a big hitter, but he does possess a consistent bat from the right side and like Cabrera, had a 4.6 UZR/150 last year at third base. Neither of these guys probably would move the needle much for fans though despite their solid years and would be more of a short term fix rather than a long-term solution.
They could always circle back to Josh Donaldson who has yet to sign. Texas though isn’t wanting to give the 34-year old a four year deal and reports are that he already has multiple on the table. Donaldson would be a hefty investment especially at 34, but he was one of the better third basemen in the league last season posting a 4.9 fWAR hitting 37 home runs in 155 games. He also rebounded defensively with a 2.1 UZR/150 in over a 1000 innings at the hot corner. Still, it seems the Rangers aren’t convinced on giving him a big deal worth well over $20 million per year into his age-37 and 38 seasons. With a number of third base prospects in the system, Texas would have to be convinced to block one of those players from a big league spot long-term.
With limited options in free agency, the Rangers look to be turning towards the trade market in search of a third baseman. Already linked with the big names in Nolan Arenado and Kris Bryant, the Rangers could also look for more of a project player in Miguel Andujar of the Yankees. It seems that one of these routes are the focus of Texas and Jon Daniels continues to confirm that they likely will look outside the organization to fill the position next season.