Rangers: Korean First Baseman Should Be Priority


The Texas Rangers should be looking to Korea to add another right-handed power hitter to a lineup overloaded with lefties.

One could argue that the Texas Rangers failed to make it beyond the American League Division Playoffs because the left-handed power hitters so desperately needed didn’t show up.

Designated hitter Prince Fielder, first baseman Mitch Moreland and left fielder Josh Hamilton were all pretty much absent from the score card as Texas had to rely upon the top and bottom of the order for offense. Simply put, that’s usually a recipe for disaster, despite the fact that it almost worked in the Rangers’ favor against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Obviously, Fielder isn’t going anywhere.

Dallas Morning News columnist Evan Grant writes this week that the Rangers can’t afford to move on from Hamilton, a player just acquired this year after last season got underway. That deal is simply too sweet to walk away from.

In terms of younger offensive options, Joey Gallo is yet another left-handed hitter that probably doesn’t factor into the first base equation moving forward.

That leaves Moreland, a 29-year old player who’s better than average in the field, but not the most consistent at the plate. In fact, Moreland was clueless in the ALDS against Toronto.

More from Sports Dallas Fort-Worth

Enter Byung Ho Park, a Korean slugger who’s now available to Major League Baseball teams that might be interested – the Rangers should probably top that list.

Texas is no stranger to finding and signing talent from Asia. Right-handed pitcher Yu Darvish was acquired under a similar process to how Park will be landed back in 2011 following a second straight loss in the World Series. In this case, the Rangers would be trying to balance their offense, as opposed to landing a face-of-the-club pitcher for the top of the rotation.

Park can flat out hit a baseball. Like Moreland, Park is also 29-years old and has twice been named MVP of the Korean Baseball Organization. Last season, Park hit .343 while launching a career-best 53 long balls.

How those numbers would translate to the majors is the key question, along with how much this could cost. For perspective, Darvish ended up costing well over $100 million and I’m betting that Park will cost something in the same neighborhood.

Park is a former teammate of Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Jung-ho Kang, the former still being a greater offensive weapon back during their days playing in the KBO. Kang’s arrival in the majors is certain to elevate both the visibility and interest in Park as the MLB offseason begins to warm up.

Can the Rangers afford to get involved.

Well, given the presence of center fielder Delino DeShields, Texas isn’t expected to make a play of any kind of slugger at that position, and understandably so.

With Darvish and newly acquired lefty Cole Hamels all wrapped up for the future, I wouldn’t expect there to be a major push in free agency for another pitcher – at least not one that would preclude that Rangers from pursuing an expensive right-handed bat to bolster the lineup.

Any number of offensively starved National League clubs could get into the Park sweepstakes and also have the funds available to land him.

If I’m the Rangers, I’m looking into this possibility very closely with the idea that Moreland could simply be allowed to walk his winter. Moreland is better defensively than Park, but the gamble is whether or not Park is better from the right side of the plate than Moreland is from the left.

The Rangers are said to have discussed a contract extension for right-handed hitter Mike Napoli, a popular veteran who’s also capable of playing first base. Aside from Napoli, third baseman Adrian Beltre is the only other hitter from the right side that boasts a solid measure of power – but for how much longer is Beltre going to maintain that status?

Next: Cowboys In Better Shape Than It May Seem

Yes, the Rangers need more power from the right side and Park might very well be the guy to bring it.