Rangers Mailbag: Who Will Step In for Corey Kluber and José Leclerc?

Chris Halicke

We are now officially one week into the Major League Baseball season. It hasn't come without its trials, for both the Texas Rangers and the rest of the league. The spread of positive COVID-19 cases has forced MLB to change things on the fly. 

Clearly, COVID-19 is not a baseball fan.

The end of the opening homestand seemed like a good time to address questions and concerns from Rangers fans. Thank you to everyone who submitted their questions!

Does Nick Goody seem like the top candidate to replace José Leclerc as the closer this year?
-Daniel Faulkner (Twitter: @thelastfaulkner)

He will certainly be one of the first choices, especially with him recording the save on Wednesday against Arizona. Goody was slated for a late-inning role with the club anyway. When healthy, he's a viable candidate.

In talking with Jon Daniels on Thursday, Chris Woodward and the coaching staff are still sorting through all of their options. Jonathan Hernández may have the best stuff to suit the closer's role, but he lacks experience at the Major League/Triple-A levels. Jesse Chavez could be another option when the matchups are favorable. Ian Gibaut's stuff and improved command at camp could provide another darkhorse candidate as well.

Bottom line, I don't think there's just one guy that will step in. To use a soccer term, whoever is in best form may be the de facto closer. 

With no minor league season, how important do you (and the Rangers) feel it is to get the high level prospects at least some playing time if or when the playoffs become unobtainable?
-Seth Rowney (Twitter: @rsr325)

It's still really early in the season, so the Rangers are still focused on competing for a playoff spot. With the postseason expanding to 16 teams, they will likely be in the running much longer unless things go terribly over the next few weeks. 

My initial reaction is the top prospects like Josh Jung, Sam Huff, or Anderson Tejeda who aren't considered to be "major league ready" won't see the big leagues this year. Not only because the Rangers will try to qualify as one of the 16 teams in the playoffs, but there is also their service time to consider. 

However, if the Rangers are bottom-dwellers midway through September, you could see a guy like Leody Taveras possibly get called back up to begin his audition for the starting job in center field for the 2021 season.

How active do you see Texas at the trade deadline?
-Mark (Twitter: @CannonMark)

I don't see many active teams at the deadline, at least regarding rentals and other short-term deals. No minor league season means it's difficult to gauge where prospects are in their development. Additionally, there is no guarantee the baseball season will be completed given what's transpired throughout the league in the first week of the season. There will be increased risk for teams considering trading for rentals if the World Series is in any kind of jeopardy.

I don't want to rule out trades altogether. But as of now, I would bet any big trades that are made will be geared towards targeting players with multiple years of control.

Who will take Corey Kluber's place in the rotation?
-Justin2 (Twitter: @jjcavey2)

Kolby Allard will get the first crack at it. He is starting on Sunday in San Francisco.

Going into the season, the first two options to supplement the rotation were Allard and Joe Palumbo. Allard had more success at the major league level in 2019, so it makes sense that he'd get the first look if and when a starter went down. 

Who besides Sherten Apostel looks like a viable option at 1B in 2021 and beyond?
-Lindsey Day (Twitter: @PorterAnsas)

The Rangers have a club option on Todd Frazier for next year. They already like what he brings to the clubhouse. If he provides the offense they desire from a corner infield spot, he could be an option for 2021.

Greg Bird was just called up to the active roster, so it will be interesting to see what he can do as he attempts to come back after multiple seasons derailed by injuries. 

Finally, the Rangers optioned Ronald Guzmán on Thursday. I still think the Rangers could give him another look this season and at Spring Training next year. He has Gold Glove-caliber defense. He just needs something to click at the plate. However, he is now out of minor league options. So, his chances are running out.

Can Rougie Odor continue to be our best hitter for all 60 games?
-Tru™ (Twitter: Lil_Tru18)

Can he? Yes. 

Will he? I think that's the question at the forefront of most Rangers fans' minds. 

I will say that the Rougie we are watching this year is different than years past. He is much more patient at the plate. That's an improvement. He's made adjustments to his swing mechanics where he doesn't have to over-swing and can better control the strike zone. That's another improvement. He's open to making further adjustments from game-to-game. Also count that as an improvement.

Does all of this mean he will become the player the Rangers envisioned when they signed him to his current contract? Not necessarily. Ultimately, results still need to be seen on the field and in the box score. However, he is in a much better position to succeed with the adjustments he's made over the past calendar year. 

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