Texas Rangers: Is Kolten Wong worth pursuing?

Seth Carlson
Sep 19, 2020; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong (16) throws out Pittsburgh Pirates designated hitter Josh Bell (not pictured) to end the fourth inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 19, 2020; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong (16) throws out Pittsburgh Pirates designated hitter Josh Bell (not pictured) to end the fourth inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Texas Rangers could employ a second base platoon with Nick Solak and Kolten Wong in 2021.

Kolten Wong fell out of favor in St. Louis this off-season the same way Rougned Odor did with the Texas Rangers.

While the latter and his expensive contract still remain in Arlington (for now), Wong is looking for his next job.

And he might be a nice fit on the Texas Rangers.

This might sound puzzling, as the team stated that Nick Solak would receive the first opportunity to start at second base this coming season.

The soon to be 26-year-old infielder/outfielder acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays in 2019 for reliever Pete Fairbanks has mostly played outfield for the Rangers since his arrival.

In fact, Solak has started just 26 career MLB games at second base, a very limited sample size.

But even if the former University of Louisville product is given a leg up for the starting second base job in Spring Training, he will still have to earn it.

This is where Kolten Wong could give the team a jolt at the position.

Kolten Wong can give the Texas Rangers something they didn’t think they needed, but might benefit from.

Wong, renowned for his defense (two-time Gold Glover), was a first round draft pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in 2011, making his MLB debut with them in 2013 and finishing third in NL Rookie of the Year voting in 2014.

The veteran second baseman has never been much of a hitter throughout his career, as evidenced by his .717 OPS and 94 OPS+ over seven seasons.

Combined with the Cardinals’ depth all over the infield, these factors led to them declining Wong’s $12.5 million option for 2021.

That price tag seems hefty, and rightly so, for a player who has yet to prove he can be a consistent all-around talent.

After all, Wong has just two seasons where he was rated as an above-average hitter (2017 with a 109 OPS+ and 2019 with a 108 OPS+).

The defense has always been there. The offense has ebbed and flowed.

More than likely, the 30-year-old Wong can be had for significantly cheaper than that original $12.5 million figure, and potentially on a one-year deal.

The Texas Rangers have not expressed any known interest in the former Cardinal to this point, but he sure makes a lot of sense for them.

Pairing Wong with Solak would provide a left-handed bat to complement the latter’s right-handed bat, allowing manager Chris Woodward to mix and match depending on the opponent’s pitcher.

Wong’s outstanding glove could also bolster the Rangers’ bench as a late-inning defensive replacement while shoring up a solid middle infield that already has a Gold Glover manning the shortstop position in Isiah Kiner-Falefa.

Considering the team’s weak pitching staff, playing elite defense should be a priority for 2021.

A double-play combination of Kiner-Falefa and Wong is a thought that should make Woodward, pitching coach Doug Mathis and their pitching staff dizzy.

Wong would also fit within Texas’ timeline and budget, as they’re not expected to compete until at least 2023.

With just a one-year deal necessary and the financials not amounting to much at all, a Wong-Rangers pairing just makes too much sense.

The Texas Rangers may have missed out on Ha-seong Kim (for now), but they have a cost-effective, defensively proficient second baseman with some offensive upside in Wong available to platoon with Nick Solak should they choose to pursue him.

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