Texas Rangers: Third base battle the definition of an open competition
By Seth Carlson
Texas Rangers fans can expect three major competitions to unfold at Surprise this spring: at first base, third base and for the fifth spot in the starting rotation.
On Tuesday, we examined the first base competition and how it should eradicate a long-standing drought at the position that had existed since Mark Teixeira’s departure in 2007.
Another position on the diamond with a major competition broiling this spring will be at third base.
Initially, Elvis Andrus and/or Rougned Odor were slated to see some time at the hot corner. Sadly, the former was traded, while we’re still seeking to off-load the latter.
Now, it’s anyone’s guess as to who will win the starting third base job when the Texas Rangers break camp at the end of March.
The team has a handful of prospects expected to compete in spring training who are capable of playing the position, including Sherten Apostel, Davis Wendzel and of course, top prospect Josh Jung.
Additionally, Texas brought in other non-roster invitees to add to the fray including Brock Holt, Charlie Culberson and Andy Ibanez, who we profiled not so long ago.
All of these different dynamics put together make it very difficult to project who will emerge with the Texas Rangers’ starting third base job when it’s all said and done.
What we do know about the situation is that none of the top prospects are expected to secure the vacant position right away, so that eliminates Josh Jung (for now) and Davis Wendzel.
The Texas Rangers will have a wide open competition at third base this spring.
Apostel’s cup of coffee with the big league club last year, as well as his upside gives him a fighting chance to land the gig.
Brock Holt and Charlie Culberson bring veteran presences to the competition, and should both find themselves right in the midst of things. Culberson is a career bench player, however, whereas Holt has starting experience. This makes it more likely that Holt wins the job over Culberson.
Don’t rule out the talented Andy Ibanez, either, who has long earned an opportunity for big league playing time.
With a strong spring showing, he could position himself firmly in the mix at third base as well.
Ultimately, the Rangers may feel like playing Odor at third base could be justified due to his contract, though that is also decidedly up in the air.
As you can clearly see, there isn’t a straightforward solution to the Texas Rangers’ third base vacancy.
That’s what will make this battle one of the most interesting to monitor this spring.