The Texas Rangers have a lot going for them in 2016. In fact, they have so much going for them that they may have too much. With Shin-Soo Choo set to return from injury in the near future, what will their outfield look like?
Their current outfielders are Ian Desmond, Nomar Mazara, and Ryan Rua. While Choo has been a starter for the Rangers before, the current starters are three of the Rangers’ best bats this season and it may not be good to shake up the lineup of a winning team. There is also no room for him elsewhere in the lineup with the DH spot already occupied by Prince Fielder and the hot-bat of Jurickson Profar.
Desmond, Mazara and Rua are all batting north of .280 this season. They also have better fielding numbers than Choo this year, even though he only played six games. The real issue is that none of the 4 are natural centerfielders, so any shakeup in the lineup will likely come with some defensive sacrifices. If the Rangers do stick with their current outfield and use Choo as a rotational player, it will allow them to see how their rookie right-fielder, Mazara, fairs in other outfield positions.
Choo may be best served as the fourth outfielder, since he regularly finds himself on the disabled-list and has yet to play 150 games in a season since joining the Rangers. However, the Rangers may not be content with him only playing a few times a week since they are paying him roughly $20 million this season. That is a hefty price tag for an aging, injury prone, back-up outfielder.
Another likely scenario is that Choo and Rua share left field, with Rua starting when the Rangers face left handed pitchers and Choo starting against right handed pitchers. It will allow both to stay healthy and the Rangers to keep Desmond and Mazara in the lineup full time. Either way it will be an exciting summer in Arlington.