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Inbox: Will Texas turn to prospects over vets?

@Sullivan_Ranger
October 18, 2020

Will the Rangers just go ahead and embrace a rebuild with younger guys and quit playing Rougned Odor and Elvis Andrus? Why give playing time to older guys with less upside than younger guys with upside? -- David D., Arlington A youth movement is fine and dandy, but if those

Will the Rangers just go ahead and embrace a rebuild with younger guys and quit playing Rougned Odor and Elvis Andrus? Why give playing time to older guys with less upside than younger guys with upside?
-- David D., Arlington

A youth movement is fine and dandy, but if those young players aren’t ready for the Major Leagues, it makes no sense and seems folly to force them up here before they’re ready.

Sure, it sounds great to have shortstop Anderson Tejeda and left fielder Eli White in the Opening Day lineup next year. But manager Chris Woodward is already on record as saying he’s not sure Tejeda -- who skipped Double-A and Triple-A -- is ready to be an everyday big league shortstop, and White hit .188 with a .229 slugging percentage in 19 games this season. Left field may end up being the best spot for Nick Solak, with Odor still at second

Right-hander Kyle Cody may have No. 1 starter stuff, but he missed two years because of injury and pitched 22 2/3 innings this season. The idea that he is ready for extended use in a big league rotation is somewhat mystifying.

Youth movements only work if the young players are developed properly. Otherwise a club ends up in a vicious rebuilding cycle with no end in sight.

I know it’s early, but who do you see Rangers taking at No. 2 in the Draft?
-- Bobby W., Fort Worth, Texas

The top two prospects in the upcoming Draft, according to MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo, are Vanderbilt right-handers Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter. The Pirates have the No. 1 pick, and Rocker appears to be the clear choice. But nobody really knows after what the pandemic did to amateur baseball, and it’s still unclear what the state of the sport might be next spring.

Here's the 2021 MLB Draft order

University of Florida outfielder Jud Fabian is considered the best of the college position players and Brady House is a high school infielder from Georgia who should go high in the Draft. But nothing is for certain until Rangers scouts get to actually look at players again next spring.

Who do you predict will be the next big free-agent signing and when?
-- Justin B., Oklahoma City, Okla.

Yasiel Puig.

You asked for a prediction and there it is. Not sure that qualifies as a “big” free agent, but the Rangers have already made it clear they are not going to get involved in the top-of-the-market free agents. Puig’s market may be down, and the Rangers have had success in the past with guys like that, including Hunter Pence, Ian Desmond, Vladimir Guerrero and others.

Puig, who turns 30 in December, is a right-handed hitter with a career .845 OPS against right-handed pitchers. He has a career OPS+ of 122 and averages 25 home runs and 15 stolen bases per season. His throwing arm is legendary, and he has the range to cover ground in left field at Globe Life Field. If the Rangers need to, they could use him at designated hitter.

Now the flip side. Puig does not have a sterling reputation. The lack of hustle on occasion is obviously disconcerting, especially with the culture Woodward wants to establish with his young team. If the Rangers do sign Puig, it would only be after Woodward meets with him and makes it clear what the expectations are in Texas.

Any ideas for bad contract trades the Rangers could make? Andrus for Khris Davis makes sense to me if Oakland cannot re-sign shortstop Marcus Semien.
-- Beauen B., Waco, Texas

The Athletics have an excellent shortstop prospect in Nick Allen, although he has yet to play above the Class A Advanced level. Andrus is signed for two more years, while Davis can be a free agent after next season.

I wonder what would happen if the Rangers asked the Dodgers about left-hander David Price, who elected not to play this season because of COVID-19. The Dodgers owe him $16 million over each of the next two seasons. The Red Sox owe him the rest. A Price-Odor swap would save the Dodgers about $7.5 million and give them more offense from second base. The roadblock here is the Dodgers have Gavin Lux, 22, a former first-round Draft pick who has been unable to seize the job yet.

Trading bad contracts is not as easy as it seems.

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.