Solving First Base: Texas Rangers Offseason Questions


In this long hard offseason the Texas Rangers have many questions that need answers:

–          Who will be the catcher next season?

–          Who will be the starting pitchers?

–          Will we bring Nelson Cruz back and what will it cost to do so?

–          What about Joe Nathan?

Sep 7, 2013; Anaheim, CA, USA; Texas Rangers first baseman

Mitch Moreland

(18) in the first inning of the game against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Last time we discussed the Middle Infield situation. The Rangers have three excellent Middle Infielders but only two Middle Infield positions. Elvis Andrus is locked in a SS that much is sure. His fielding and contract essentially demand it. But with top prospect Jurickson Profar needing to play fulltime, current 2B starter Ian Kinsler or Jurickson himself will need to switch positions.

Today we discuss the dilemma at first base.

But as mentioned in the last offseason article, the answer to all other questions must be based on what happens with Kinsler and Profar. Profar could be traded. He could bring a first basemen or maybe an outfielder. Both are major needs.

The other option is to move Kinsler to 1B. Kinsler has been slipping a bit defensively at 2B and Profar would be a long-term upgrade. 1B is a relatively easy transition for Kinsler to make and will probably reduce his number of errors per season. The only question is can Kinsler pack the offensive punch desired from a 1st basemen?

Typically teams prefer to fill the first base position to be manned by a big bat. While Kinsler has better than average power for a typical second basemen, he would have below average power for a desired first basemen. He’s not a liability by any means – Just not a traditional fit.

As we stand today a Kinsler move to 1st seems to be the most logical as Mitch Moreland is certainly on his way out after a very disappointing season. But if it’s not Kinsler what kind of other options are out there?

According to here are the options that may be available:

Sep 4, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Seattle Mariners designated hitter

Kendrys Morales

(8) hits a 2 run home run against the Kansas City Royals in the ninth inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

First Basemen

Jason Giambi
Travis Hafner
Todd Helton
Eric Hinske
Paul Konerko
Casey Kotchman
Adam Lind *
James Loney
Kendrys Morales
Justin Morneau
Mike Morse
Mike Napoli
Lyle Overbay
Carlos Pena
Mark Reynolds
Juan Rivera
Kevin Youkilis

This would be a fantastic list of free agents if it was 2005. But we’re talking about 2014 and many of these gentlemen are shadows of their former selves. In addition some in this free agent group will remain with their current team while others will choose to retire.

Sep 24, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler (5) hits a run scoring single in the fifth inning of the game against the Houston Astros at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

If the Rangers find themselves in the market for a first basemen, Kendrys Morales looks like the best fit. He has similar offensive numbers to Kinsler (but no speed) and is an excellent defensive first basemen.

Morales is seeking a hefty multiyear deal and may be more than the Rangers want to spend for a pretty-good first basemen with an injury history.

Mike Napoli and Justin Morneau are also short term possibilities. Smart money still says Kinsler makes the move to 1B and Profar takes over 2B. But if Profar is moved or traded, then Kinsler stays at 2B and the Rangers are in major need. Most likely they will look to find someone on a short-term deal since no one is really worth breaking the bank for.

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