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Five questions facing Texas this offseason

@Sullivan_Ranger
September 29, 2019

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers’ offseason is here, and the questions start immediately. They won’t be answered until much later, but here are the five biggest questions facing the Rangers. 1. Who is going to play third base next year? Anthony Rendon is the best available player on the free-agent market,

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers’ offseason is here, and the questions start immediately.

They won’t be answered until much later, but here are the five biggest questions facing the Rangers.

1. Who is going to play third base next year?

Anthony Rendon is the best available player on the free-agent market, but he might be beyond the Rangers’ reach, especially if he is looking for more than a five-year contract. Remember Texas just drafted two third basemen out of college: Josh Jung (eighth overall pick) and Davis Wendzel (41st overall).

Josh Donaldson could be the better fit on a shorter term: an impact right-handed bat who is getting ready to play in the postseason for the seventh time in eight seasons.

Internally, the options are scant. Danny Santana? Not his best position. Isiah Kiner-Falefa? The Rangers may need more offensive muscle at the corner. Logan Forsythe? He is a free agent.

2. How will the Rangers go about filling their rotation?

Obviously with Mike Minor and Lance Lynn, but what next? How many of the next three spots are devoted to their own young players?

This is a relatively deep free-agent class for starting pitching so the Rangers should be able to land at least one veteran starter. It may not be Gerrit Cole, Madison Bumgarner or Hyun-Jin Ryu, but there should be some interesting names -- Dallas Keuchel, Jake Odorizzi, Cole Hamels and more -- to consider.

Realistically the Rangers should fill at least two spots from outside the organization and provide enough veteran depth to fill the fifth spot if one of the young guys isn’t ready. The Rangers have an understandably high opinion of their young starters -- Joe Palumbo, Brock Burke and Kolby Allard among others -- but a strong argument could be made that all could benefit from more Minor League development time.

3. Which left-handed hitter will be the odd-man out?

General manager Jon Daniels said the plan is to not use Joey Gallo in center field next year. That leaves two corner spots and the designated hitter for Gallo, Willie Calhoun, Nomar Mazara and Shin-Soo Choo.

It’s hard to imagine Gallo going anywhere, and the Rangers also aren’t interested in moving him back to the infield. Choo, 37, is entering the last season of his seven-year contract. Calhoun and Mazara are similar players. It would be an interesting decision if the Rangers had to choose between the two.

That might be avoidable if Texas could find a trade partner interested in Choo, who is due $21 million and is still playing like he always has for the Rangers and shows no signs of being impacted by age.

4. Do the Rangers re-sign Pence?

The Rangers and Hunter Pence are aware that there may not be room for him in the corner outfield/DH rotation. Pence should also be in more demand this offseason coming off an All-Star season, compared to last winter when he had to settle for a Minor League invite.

But what is also true is the Rangers are lined up to have another left-handed heavy lineup and will once again need a veteran right-handed bat to help balance it out.

5. After third base, what position gets priority: catcher, first base or center field?

It will be difficult for the Rangers to make a major upgrade at these positions given their needs at pitching and third base.

So, they have to decide if Jose Trevino is ready to be the No. 1 catcher -- with the option to share time with Jeff Mathis -- or seek another alternative behind the plate. The Rangers will likely acquire a veteran catcher for depth, either as a safety net for Trevino or an alternative for Mathis, who is signed for $3 million. That doesn’t mean Mathis is a lock for the Opening Day roster if the Rangers find something better.

Texas has to decide if Ronald Guzmán merits another chance to be the everyday first baseman. Santana can play here, although he is much better up the middle either at shortstop, second base or center field.

Delino DeShields will likely be the leading candidate to play center, but he will once again have to win the job in Spring Training. The Rangers feel he can be an everyday player, but he must prove himself. Santana is a viable alternative here, but his best role could be as a multi-position utility player.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.