4 outfielders the Texas Rangers can still pursue this winter

Sep 12, 2021; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets right fielder Michael Conforto (30) hits an RBI single in the first inning against the New York Yankees at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 12, 2021; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets right fielder Michael Conforto (30) hits an RBI single in the first inning against the New York Yankees at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Winter Meetings are now officially over. The Texas Rangers, after signing Jacob DeGrom last week, came away with a two-year, 25 million dollar contract to Andrew Heaney that can get up to 37 million with incentives. It also includes an opt-out after next season.

The team is far from done despite these moves. They still are in the market possibly for another starting pitcher, bullpen depth, and an outfielder. I want to look at four outfielders specifically that are still available for the Texas Rangers to sign this winter.

4 outfield options the Texas Rangers can still bring in this winter

1.  Joey Gallo

He was drafted and developed by the Texas Rangers, then traded to the Yankees before the trade deadline in 2021. Since being traded he has played in 184 games with the Yankees and Dodgers. In that time he has hit 32 home runs and drawn 93 walks. He has also struck out 251 times. He had a career low batting average of .160 in 2022. He is a former Gold glove winning outfielder.  There is some thought that playing in Texas will help him return to the player he was before the trades.

There is also expectation that with the shift being restricted that he will have fewer line drive turned into outs. Teams will still shift Gallo at times. I would not be surprised to see some teams move a left-fielder into that hole between 1st and 2nd in shallow right-field to take away that gap in the defense. He just does not hit it to left field enough to warrant playing defense straight up.

Finally, Spotrac estimates that he will get a one year contract worth 8.9 million. In this market that probably means one year and 14-15 million. I give this one a 20% chance of happening. The Rangers could have traded for him at the deadline. They could have already signed him, but yet nothing has been completed. It does make me wonder if Chris Young wants to bring back Joey Gallo.

2.  Michael Conforto

He is a former Mets outfielder. He was given the qualifying offer after the 2021 season. He did not sign a contract before or after the lockout. The qualifying offer caused teams to be hesitant on signing him.  Then in April. he chose to have shoulder surgery because of an injury he suffered in January training for the upcoming season. That caused him to sit out the entire 2022 season.

2021 was the worst season of his career. He hit only 14 home runs, batted .232 and had the 2nd worst OPS of his career at .729. Prior to the shortened pandemic season of 2020 he had regularly hit around 30 home runs a season and had multiple .900 OPS years as well. He hit 33 home runs in 2019.

The Texas Rangers have had rumored interest in Conforto since 2021. If the Rangers sign him they are hoping he can regain that form he had in 2020 and prior rather than how he played in 2021. Spotrac estimates that he will receive a one year/20 million dollar contract. He is a guy who through his career has provided power from the left side and an ability to get on base. He has never had an OBP lower than .310 in his career or a batting average lower than .220. If the Rangers sign him they can plug him in to the seventh spot in the lineup and have him provide depth and a connective tissue from the middle of the lineup to the bottom of the lineup.

I would give this one a 30% chance of happening. The Rangers are not looking for a long-term commitment, he has put up good numbers in the past, has been a part of winning teams, and will be able to go out there every day.

3. Jurickson Profar

Another former Ranger who is on the free agent market after his time in San Diego. He is a switch-hitting outfielder. He was once the top prospect in all of baseball for the Rangers. He missed the 2014 and 2015 seasons with a shoulder surgery. He played three seasons with the Rangers and was then traded to the Oakland after the 2018 season and then traded to the Padres in 2019.  He became the Padres regular LF in that time.

Profar is coming off the best season of his career. He played in 152 games plus the 12 games he played in the postseason. He ended up with 150 hits, 15 home runs, 36 doubles, a .243 BA, .723 OPS, and 10 outfield assists this season. He is a good not great outfielder. He makes contact, but rarely makes hard contact. He has the ability to really drive the ball into the gaps and is a good base-runner as well. He is a player who would be comfortable near the bottom of the batting order. He might also be looking for a multiple year contract.

Spotrac estimates Profar’s value as six years/89 million. It would be a long term commitment, but at age 29 he likely is able to stick in the outfield for the life of the contract. He also is a Boras client. That seems to be a running theme. I would give this one a 25% chance of happening. His ability to play both infield and outfield could entice the Texas Rangers to bring him back. He was a former second baseman, has played first base some, and then of course in the outfield. I am not sure if the Rangers want to give anyone a multi-year contract.

4. Andrew McCutchen

He is a former MVP back during his time with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He is the oldest guy on this list at age 35. I think back to those teams Bochy managed with the Giants and he always had a player or two that were past their prime, but he managed to get solid contributions from. 2010 was the Giants team that was led by Cody Ross, Pat Burrell, and Edgar Renteria. The 2012 Giants team received contributions from a 36 year old Marco Scutaro. The 2014 Giants had a 32-year Mike Morse. He would always have guys who were undervalued and he got more of them than previous teams had been able to. I think McCutchen could be that guy if he signs here.

His numbers are not what they once were. He did have 27 home runs for the Phillies in 2021, 17 home runs for the Brewers this past season. He doesn’t have to be an all-star level player for Texas to be successful. Being able to put together good at-bats, get on-base, and hit for some power should be good enough. I think at this point in his career McCutchen can still be that guy. Unlike the guys above he is a right-handed hitter as well. The Rangers only have 4 true right-handed hitters in their lineup. Spotrac estimates that he will sign a one year, $7.6 million contract.

I give this one a 25% chance of happening. It is not because of anything I have heard or read. It is just because it does feel like McCutchen is the right player that can provide leadership, be a mentor for the younger guys like Josh Jung and Zeke Duran, and able to come up with a big hit in a big moment.

Conclusion

Each of these players are still out there on the free agent market and each would be able to contribute in their own unique ways. The first three are represented by Scott Boras. One of them is a former MVP.  I think the most important factor to consider is not necessarily who the best player is, but who fits the lineup best.

Who is someone that can get on base, have productive at-bats, and be able to keep the line moving? This player likely will be hitting sixth or seventh. Who will be able to keep rallies going and not be a rally killer? That player will be responsible for getting on-base and setting up the bottom of the lineup to get it back to the top of the order.

The Texas Rangers already have a good lineup, this player is just expected to come here and complement the current batting order. Hopefully the team will be able to get something done in the days before Christmas.

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