Three Rangers That Must Improve in 2020
Having the ability to spend in free agency is a luxury not every team has every winter. Small market teams are pinching pennies and big market teams sometimes have over-inflated payrolls and need to dump salary.
However, adding high quality free agents is not the be-all end-all for building a championship team. Sure, spending is key in baseball, but no team, no matter how fat their wallets are, can build a winner with only buying players.
There has to be an existing core in place that is competitive and talented. Adding top free agents should be the final piece to the puzzle.
The Rangers currently have a pretty decent core of young players. They are talented and hungry, but not all of them are quite where they need to be. Some are younger than others and still have time to develop. Others have been in the big leagues for a while. It's time to turn the corner.
The jury is still out on Ronald Guzman. He's got two seasons under his belt and is still in pre-arbitration with the ball club.
However, he becomes arbitration-eligible after the 2020 season. By this time, players should have turned some kind of corner in their big league career. Not everyone turns into Mike Trout, but there should be some considerable improvement for a former top-10 prospect in the system.
Guzman's defense is his largest strength. He's accrued 6 Defensive Runs Saved in his two seasons and his career fielding percentage is right at league average at .993. If he continues to improve defensively, he could find himself in the Gold Glove talk soon.
His bat is what has to improve. His .723 OPS in 2019, and .722 career OPS, is far too low for a first baseman. First base is traditionally a spot for offensive production. No matter how good the defense is, there has to be some kind of contribution at the plate. He has a career 0.6 bWAR with a mark of -0.1 in 2019. That's replacement-level production.
Guzman may never be a big home run threat, but if he can become a better gap-hitter and get at least 20 home runs per season, combined with elite defense, then Guzman will have become a positive contributor for the Rangers.
Speed is a wonderful thing to have. It can be a true game-changer.
For Delino DeShields, the speed he possesses is elite. It aids him to become a better defender and a threat every time he's on the bases. But there's got to be more.
Much like Ronald Guzman, DeShields' defense is one of his strengths. While he's not quite in the elite category, he's a positive defender in center field, though the fielding percentage could go up. He doesn't have a cannon for an arm, but his speed and improving angles are making it more difficult for hitters to get balls in the gaps.
Also like Guzman, his bat has to catch up with his defense. His career slash line of .246/.326/.342 is below replacement-level for his position. His slash line of .249/.325/.347 in 2019 is almost identical to his career numbers, showing almost no improvement.
DeShields is a fierce competitor. If the Rangers don't address center field externally this winter, it's a vote of confidence by the ball club that he can get the job done for at least 2020. With only two more seasons of club control, DeShields needs to up his offensive production next season.
He doesn't have to become an offensive powerhouse. If he can improve his on-base numbers by 35-40 points, that would already add so much to his contribution to the ball club.
Here's a guy the Rangers are still high on. His ceiling is incredibly high. His power is nearly unrivaled. But it just hasn't been clicking on all cylinders yet.
Nomar Mazara is entering his second year of arbitration, meaning there are only two more years of club control left on him. The Rangers and fans alike have been expecting him to make a big jump in his production for the past two seasons and it just hasn't happened.
Mazara has all the makings of a potential superstar, which may make him attractive to other ball clubs in potential trade negotiations as well. The Rangers have a log jam at their corner outfield spots and could possibly trade a player away to free up at-bats for everyone else. But the Rangers will be kicking themselves if they trade Mazara away and he becomes a superstar.
His approach at the plate vastly improved down the stretch and was highly regarded by Jon Daniels and Chris Woodward at season's end. If he's still in a Rangers jersey, maybe he can carry that over into 2020.
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