The Texas Rangers didn’t make things easy for first baseman Ronald Guzman heading into 2021.
After all, they acquired a player this past off-season who could directly threaten the 26-year-old’s first base perch: the powerful but yet unestablished Nate Lowe.
Guzman had to know that the trade with Tampa Bay for Lowe was somewhat of an indictment against him, a veteran whose production was steady but underwhelming for three prior seasons as a Texas Ranger.
So what did he do during the winter? Only completely dominate the Dominican Winter League, winning MVP and changing his swing to make it more compact.
So far, the dividends are paying off in a big way this spring.
It’s only been four games, but Guzman has been in the lineup thrice out of those contests, taking his five at-bats and making the most of them with a home run off White Sox’ ace Lucas Giolito and three hits, good for a 1.914 OPS so far.
Ronald Guzman has looked promising this spring for the Texas Rangers.
Even the batted balls that aren’t resulting in hits are missiles off the barrel of the Condor’s bat, a welcome sight in an era of baseball where hard contact is being emphasized.
By contrast, Lowe is off to a slower start, having accumulated just one hit, a double in the second game against the Giants.
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In Wednesday’s contest against the Angels, Guzman and Lowe started in the same lineup, with the former in left field and the latter at first base.
Unfortunately, this is what it’ll have to be for Guzman if he wants to make the roster out of spring training.
Luckily, the 26-year-old is willing to make this sacrifice, knowing that if he does and his outfield experiment pays off, it’ll be difficult for the Texas Rangers to DFA or trade Guzman should it come down to that.
Versatility is the name of the game in baseball in 2021. It’s players like Charlie Culberson and Brock Holt, who both find themselves in Texas Rangers camp and likely will also find themselves on the starting 26 on April 1 in Kansas City, that have had longer careers than many anticipated due to their ability to adapt and become useful in more ways than one.
This is seemingly the path for Ronald Guzman to make the Rangers this season.
If Ronald Guzman wants to make the Texas Rangers’ Opening Day roster, he’ll need to rely on versatility.
The Condor is sure to see plenty of additional playing time in left field this spring, and there will be high and low moments as a result of this experiment.
Guzman isn’t a natural outfielder, after all.
Though David Dahl will likely man the starting left field post for Texas this season, he’s typically an injury away from missing extended action.
That’s when Guzman could capitalize on his newfound versatility.
Would the 26-year-old prefer to play his comfortable position of first base? Undoubtedly.
But Nate Lowe is here, and the Rangers gave up a significant amount of prospect capital to acquire him. With team control until 2027, it’s not as if Lowe is going anywhere anytime soon.
That means Guzman has to embrace the prospect of versatility, something he’s demonstrated an early desire to take on.
No rebuilding squad can justify carrying two same-sided first basemen, either, let alone a team that has plans to contend. Roster spots are better filled with utility rather than redundancy.
Whether you think think these circumstances are fair or not for Guzman, he has accepted the terms as they are, and that just might be something the Rangers can work with when camp breaks.