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Inbox: Looking ahead to potential 2020 roster

Beat reporter T.R. Sullivan answers questions from fans
@Sullivan_Ranger
October 7, 2019

Great response to my request for inbox questions. We will do this again next week, so send those questions to tr.sullivan@mlb.com. Sorry we couldn’t get to every question. Who would you identify as the core of this team going forward? -- Dennis G. Garland, Texas Lance Lynn, Mike Minor and

Great response to my request for inbox questions. We will do this again next week, so send those questions to tr.sullivan@mlb.com. Sorry we couldn’t get to every question.

Who would you identify as the core of this team going forward?
-- Dennis G. Garland, Texas

Lance Lynn, Mike Minor and José Leclerc. As far as position players, the Rangers don’t appear to be in position to identify any core players with the possible exception being Joey Gallo. Look, the Rangers still have a high regard for their young talent. But it’s clear the club will consider everything this winter, whether a player has been a part of the “core” in the past or not.

The most intriguing move could come if they must decide between Nomar Mazara and Willie Calhoun. That may end up being their toughest decision this winter, and they will definitely gauge interest from other teams in both players.

I know Anthony Rendon is the most coveted third baseman this offseason, but why not pay him what he wants and then sign some one-year deals on Michael Pineda and Alex Wood?
-- Nate D. Las Vegas

Rendon would be great, but the Rangers aren’t going to be interested in him or any other free agent that wants more than a five-year deal. Shin-Soo Choo will likely be the last player signed by the Rangers to a contract longer than five years. That’s why Josh Donaldson could be an inviting target for the Rangers, as opposed to Pineda, who is serving a suspension and won’t be an inviting target for anybody. Wood, on the other hand, is intriguing.

I understand that you don’t want to rush and mess up the development of a prized prospect. But any chance that Cole Winn or Hans Crouse make their Major League debuts next season?
-- Hermant P. Cary, N.C.

Crouse and Winn, the Rangers' Nos. 3 and 4 prospects, respectively (per MLB Pipeline), were at Class A Hickory last season, and they may not have seen all there is to see in the great state of North Carolina. How about starting next season at Class A Down East and maybe -- just maybe -- get to Double A Frisco. There is also another stop at Triple-A Nashville. Fascinating town. Check out Ken Burns’ latest documentary on country music. No young pitcher should miss out on the complete Nashville experience. That includes Joe Palumbo (No. 6 prospect), Kolby Allard and Brock Burke (No. 7 prospect).

Why not go after Matt Wieters as an alternative to Jeff Mathis?
-- Robert H. San Antonio

Wieters, once considered Buster Posey’s equal, has declined defensively, although Nationals pitchers liked throwing to him. He does offer more offense than Mathis. Best way to put it is, he is an alternative but doesn’t solve all problems.

How much legitimacy is there in the Rangers being a potential trade partner for the Cubs and Kris Bryant? Do we have the firepower to pull off a trade of that magnitude?
-- Josh T. Mansfield, Texas

The Cubs appear willing to talk about their “core” players, and Bryant is in that group. But the Cubs need to address starting pitching, center field and second base. Hard to see the Cubs biting on Delino DeShields or Rougned Odor. It would be interesting to see what the Cubs would do if the Rangers offered Gallo. Which club would be willing to do it straight up, or would one have to sweeten the deal?

Infielder Nick Solak showed a lot of promise, so do you think he could start outright or Odor continues to start? Or, do you think a platoon between the two is more likely?
-- Sawyer S. Forney, Texas

Odor goes into Spring Training as the starter, but next season rosters are expanded to 26 players with a limit of 13 pitchers. That means there could be a meaningful role for Solak as a right-handed hitter who can play multiple positions. That would be a good way to ease him into a more significant role.

I like the emphasis on finding a top-notch third baseman and adding quality starting pitching, but the Rangers' strongest teams also had Jim Sundberg and Pudge Rodriguez. Why aren't the Rangers placing more emphasis on finding an ace catcher?
-- Rich O. Alpharetta, Ga.

The Rangers have tried hard. They put much emphasis on it, but some high draft picks didn’t work out and some key international signings have yet to pay off. The Rangers are making progress. Jose Trevino is close to being an everyday catcher, and Sam Huff, the Rangers' No. 2 prospect, is a couple of years away from being an impact rookie. They also had David Garcia, 19, at Class A Spokane. He has a chance to be something special. The Rangers would love for Matt Whatley to hit because he is excellent behind the plate.

So with the passage of Globe Life Park and its natural turf for the past 26 years to Globe Life Field with no genuine field but acres of artificial turf, what happens to the scores of good folks on the Rangers’ ground crew?
-- Bob V. Plano, Texas

Dennis Klein and his crew are as valuable as ever, and they are moving across the street. George Toma of Kansas City is considered the greatest groundskeeper ever, and he spent most of his career tending artificial surfaces at Arrowhead and Kauffman Stadiums. Toma said a good crew can double the life of an artificial surface.

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.