Rangers offseason shopping list part two: Outfielders

Center fielder Ian Desmond might be the biggest offseason signing for the Rangers for the second year in a row. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Center fielder Ian Desmond might be the biggest offseason signing for the Rangers for the second year in a row. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports /

The Texas Rangers head into yet another offseason following playoff disappointment. With a solid roster throughout, there are still areas of need. Here’s a look at what the Rangers can do in the offseason to bolster the outfield.

Sadly, the Texas Rangers are no longer competing this season. But with a few great moves here and there, they can get even better for 2017. One of the biggest needs this offseason just might be the outfield.

Who the Rangers have returning

Right Fielder Shin-Soo Choo

Shin-Soo Choo is solidified through 2020. Both offensively and defensively, he’s had a pretty rough go of things. He’s been below-average at best. With an average salary of $20.5 million over the next four seasons, the Rangers deserve better than below-average output. If there was a team desperate enough to take on that large commitment of money, or if Texas could swing some kind of deal to pay a major chunk of that money, then they might be able to unload him.

Center Fielder Delino Deshields

Delino Deshields is pre-arbitration eligible for the upcoming season, and then eligible for arbitration annually through 2020. This means, he’ll likely make the league minimum in 2017, making him a very inexpensive option. Given his speed, he’s a good fit as a fourth outfielder. While there’s room to improve defensively, and he needs to get better at reaching base, the Rangers could do worse.

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Left Fielder Ryan Rua

Ryan Rua put up some pretty respectable numbers in 2016. He batted .258 with a .331 on base percentage in what amounts to about half of a season of playing time. The knock on his game is that he strikes out a lot. He struck out 76 times in 269 plate appearances. Because of this, his value comes more from his ability to platoon between the outfield and first base.

Right Fielder Nomar Mazara

Rookie sensation Nomar Mazara finished the year tied for the most home runs by an American League rookie. The Rangers will have control of him for the next five seasons, so he’s going nowhere soon free agency-wise. Of the current options Texas has, he’s the most exciting and will likely start in right field next season.

Who the Rangers have leaving

Center Fielder Ian Desmond — Chances of re-signing, 85%

Ian Desmond is easily the biggest name on the Rangers roster that will become a free agent. After making a transition from second base to center field, he flourished in 2016. In hindsight, one could make the argument that he was the biggest free agent signing this past offseason.

General Manager Jon Daniels has already alluded to the fact that the Rangers want him back next year. But given his huge production this year, he will require a hefty price. The line will form to the left for his services.

Right Fielder/Designated hitter Carlos Beltran — Chances of re-signing, 20%

Carlos Beltran will also re-enter the free agent market. While his average and on-base percentage took a bit of a hit after his trade from the Yankees, he’s still a great option. Like Desmond, he will command some big money to sign with his next team. He’s stated on the record that he likes Texas and could see himself staying here, but that he will explore every option.

Left Fielder Carlos Gomez — Chances of re-signing, 60%

Carlos Gomez signed as a free agent late in the season and did the Rangers and himself huge favors with his production. He outpaced his early season Houston Astros numbers across the board when he moved to Arlington. It’s clear that either the change of scenery or just his existence in the Rangers clubhouse had a major impact on his game. He will look to make some really good money, but could be a bit cheaper than Beltran. He’ll certainly cost less than Choo currently does.

Who the Rangers could sign from elsewhere

Left Fielder Josh Hamilton — Chances of signing, 60%

There is a good chance Josh Hamilton could return in 2017. Rumor has it that he’s worked hard to get back into shape and wants to make a comeback. He’s already familiar with the Texas clubhouse, and the Rangers could just take a flier on him for a platooning/designated hitter role.

Left Fielder Yoenis Cespedes — Chances of signing, 5%

While Yoenis Cespedes still has an option for two more years with the Mets, it’s looking like he will opt out for a bigger check. He will command top dollar among current outfield free agents if he does and will likely ask for money outside Texas’s price range.

Right Fielder Jose Bautista — Chances of signing, 1%

Don’t laugh. Okay, go ahead and laugh. It’s almost impossible to see a scenario where Jose Bautista signs with Texas. Not to mention, his reputation around here is pretty tainted for those that may not remember. The backlash would be huge. Some doors are better left unopened.

Who the Rangers will go with

Between the current players remaining and the guys entering free agency following the season, the Rangers have no real reason to look too far outside the organization. There is solid outfield talent still here and they’ll likely go pretty big to bring back at least one of Desmond, Beltran or Gomez.

Next: Rangers offseason shopping list part one: starting pitchers

Desmond is the odds-on favorite given his chemistry with in the clubhouse, followed closely by Gomez for the same reason. With a starting outfield of Choo, Mazara and Desmond, that puts them in a good spot: provided Choo can improve at least a bit and stay healthy next year.