Donaldson now Rangers' top target?

December 16th, 2019

SAN DIEGO -- The Rangers have turned their attention to free-agent third baseman Josh Donaldson now that the Angels have landed Anthony Rendon. Jon Heyman of MLB Network is reporting the Angels have reached a deal with Rendon on a seven-year, $245 million contract.

The Rangers met once with agent Scott Boras to discuss Rendon this week and did make a formal offer. But apparently it wasn't good enough to match the Angels, who became aggressive after losing out on pitcher Gerrit Cole.

Donaldson has been the Rangers' other option for third base since the offseason began. But they face competition there as well. The Braves are looking to re-sign the 34-year-old, and the Nationals need a third baseman now that they have lost Rendon.

General manager Jon Daniels admitted there is pressure on the Rangers to make a big splash this offseason going into their new ballpark, but the club is trying not to let that affect its decisions.

"Externally, there clearly is," Daniels said. "We are certainly aware of that. I am not trying to be blind to it. It does factor on some level, but it can't be the driving force. I don't want it to be the driving force. We have to make good decisions, first and foremost."

Donaldson is coming off a big season with the Braves, hitting .259 with 37 home runs, 94 RBIs and a .521 slugging percentage.

Calhoun over Mazara

Outfielder Willie Calhoun outperformed Nomar Mazara this year and can't become a free agent until after the 2024 season. Mazara has just two years of service time remaining before he can become a free agent.

Daniels said those were two factors in the Rangers' decision to trade Mazara instead of Calhoun and ease their overabundance of left-handed hitters.

It was a surprising ending for Mazara in Texas. At one time, he was viewed as a big-time talent and a huge part of the Rangers' future.

"Ultimately, what happened in our situation is he is 24 years old but still only two years left before free agency. That's a factor," Daniels said. "He has been a good player, but to this point he hasn't taken the step that we hoped. That doesn't mean he's not going to. He is at an age [24] where a lot of guys haven't gotten to the big leagues yet. He's capable of it."

Joey Gallo will play right field for the Rangers. Calhoun is expected to play left field unless the Rangers make another move this offseason.

"But I would not anticipate that," Daniels said.

The Rangers acquired Class A outfielder Steele Walker from the White Sox in exchange for Mazara. Major League players being used as comparison to Walker are Mark Kotsay, Kole Calhoun and Nick Swisher. The Rangers also talked to the Tigers about prospects, but it is still surprising they weren't able to land Major League talent in return.

"There were some inquiries where we could have gotten players back that could have been on the big league club," Daniels said. "But we didn't think those were the right fits for us."

Rangers seek first-base help

The Rangers are looking for first-base help, possibly a right-handed platoon partner for Ronald Guzman. Free-agent right-handed hitter C.J. Cron could be a player of interest. He was with the Twins this past season and hit .326 with a 385 on-base percentage and a .636 slugging percentage against left-handed pitchers.

"We have explored other first-base options and will continue to," Daniels said. "I think Ronald is a plus defensive first baseman with power. If the floor is he is a platoon plus defensive first baseman, there is a place for that in the big leagues. Can we upgrade? We'll see. Do we find a platoon partner? Maybe."