Despite trading away their 2019 starting center fielder, the Texas Rangers aren’t pursuing a new option and instead plan for Danny Santana to fill the role.
The Texas Rangers are still big players in the remainder of the offseason due to their determination to upgrade their roster before they enter Globe Life Field in March. They have a tidy list of possible positions to be upgraded including third base, catcher and first base. They could add an outfielder and probably could use relief help, but one place they seem confident to roll with as is next season is center field per Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Last year, Delino DeShields got the vast chunk of time in center field for the Rangers playing in 112 games. There was a significant drop-off after that with Joey Gallo playing in 38 games in center and Danny Santana getting 27 appearances there last season. Obviously, as you’ve probably heard by now, Delino DeShields is no longer with Texas after being traded to the Cleveland Indians as part of the deal that brought Corey Kluber to the Rangers. That leaves what many believed to be a hole in the outfield for next season.
While the club has been connected to trade possibility Starling Marte and we’ve pondered Jackie Bradley Jr. and Kevin Pillar as options, it seems the organization is fine staying in house for center field next season. Jeff Wilson noted in a piece Tuesday that Daniels and the club aren’t making center field a priority at this point. That info comes straight from Daniels and while we wouldn’t expect the GM to give away his offseason hand, this feels like an honest thought.
With that seemingly the plan in place, center field seems to be where 2019 breakout player Danny Santana will find himself much of next season. Joey Gallo is probably the best defensive fit on the roster but the Rangers, wisely, want him to focus on being a long-term right fielder. Willie Calhoun is relegated to left field duties as the only suitable spot for his defensive skillset which means Danny Santana, who spent 2019 as a super-utility man, will get his shot to be an everyday center fielder.
More from Texas Rangers News
- Early 2023 MLB mock draft has Texas Rangers selecting an Ohtani-lite
- 3 Texas Rangers outfield trade targets not named Bryan Reynolds
- Did Jacob deGrom really mean what he said at his Texas Rangers press conference?
- Martin Perez accepting the qualifying offer looking like solid deal for the Rangers
- 4 outfielders the Texas Rangers can still pursue this winter
Last season Santana played 191.2 innings in center to underwhelming results. He posted a -29.8 UZR/150 in center field. Despite that, center is actually the position where Santana has spent the most time in his career logging over 1100 innings in six different seasons. He’s never been a stellar defender at the spot but that elevated UZR/150 doesn’t fit his career trend. In his career his UZR/150 in center is a better, albeit below average, -7.2.
The Rangers will hope a full offseason of being dedicated to center field work will help right the defensive ship for Santana who was named the club’s Player of the Year by the DFW Chapter of the BWAA. His bat is ultra-valuable to Texas next season, especially if he can replicate his production from last year. He was stellar, with a .283 average and .857 OPS in 130 games. His 28 homers was a career high and he finished the year with a 1.9 fWAR which was limited by his defense. He was arguably the best bat in the Rangers lineup last season which makes getting him in the 2020 order all the more important.
This plan to keep Santana in center is always going to be subject to change whether before Spring Training or in-season. If a Marte deal falls in their lap, it may be hard to turn it down. If they wind up with Marcell Ozuna or Nick Castellanos in free agency like has been rumored, that would likely make an impact. But for now, it seems the Rangers are content riding with Santana and banking that his 2019 breakout was a signal of things to come and not just an anomaly.