ARLINGTON, Texas — With the Texas Rangers in a rebuild, most people expected the team to be down in the standings this year. The only uncertainty was just how long it would be until the Rangers put together a team to compete once again.
Despite being in said rebuild, the Rangers are thought to be a player in free agency next winter. Now, even as recently as Monday, president of baseball operations Jon Daniels wouldn't tip his hand on how eager the club will be in pursuing high-dollar free agents. Even so, there are several reports, and sources that confirm with InsideTheRangers.com, that Texas will be interested in the impressive class of shortstops that include names like Trevor Story, Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, and Javier Báez.
One potential issue with going after a big name free agent shortstop is the Rangers have one in Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who is having his best offensive year and leads all of Major League Baseball in defensive bWAR and Defensive Runs Saved.
Do the Rangers still consider going after a shortstop? Do they ask one of them to play another position? Should the Rangers allocate the money elsewhere? Or maybe, do they ask Kiner-Falefa to move off shortstop?
"I want to win," Kiner-Falefa said on Monday. "If it is an outfielder, then that's what I'd be all into. If there are shortstops that are out there, I want to put on such a good show that they want to play with me. You need to have something enticing, and I think I'm that piece that other guys look and say, 'I can play with that guy.' If they want to do that, and they want to be here, then we can work something out."
Okay. So, if Jon Daniels and Chris Young want to bring in Story or Correa, Kiner-Falefa is on board. But would he be willing to move away from shortstop — a position for which he could very well win a Gold Glove?
"I mean, I want to play every day," Kiner-Falefa explained. "I want to be a part of the next World Series here. If I have to move, then I have to move. But shortstop is a defense-first position and I don't think anybody's better than me. So at the end of the day, what's best for the team? If I have to make a sacrifice, someone else is going to have to make a sacrifice. But to win, sacrifices need to be made. So if that's the case, I'm willing to do whatever it takes. And I'm sure they'll be willing to accommodate me as well."
The notion of any big name player accommodating Isiah Kiner-Falefa may seem farfetched to many. But players, coaches, and executives don't draw conclusions on name recognition. Pitchers surely appreciate what Kiner-Falefa does from a defensive standpoint. And if Kiner-Falefa adds a Gold Glove to his trophy case, he'd become the first player in the history of Major League Baseball to win the award at third base and shortstop. That's all the reason he needs to lobby to stay put.
"I think if you put someone else in there, I don't think it'll be the same," Kiner-Falefa said. "But I have to be enticing [and] good enough where they won't even look at that as an option."
So why would Trevor Story, Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, or any other big name shortstop sign with Texas if a position change was required? Surely they would want to remain at their position, right? After all, Texas is more than just a piece or two away from contending.
"That's not what I've heard so far, though," Kiner-Falefa said. "I've heard they've wanted they want to come here but I haven't heard they want to play shortstop. I'll throw that out there. Not naming names."
More on SI's Inside The Rangers:
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- Ibáñez Homers, Rangers Power Past A's 8-3
- Woodward On Rangers' Struggles: "The Fans Need To Know What's Happening"
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