The Texas Rangers enter the 2015 season in a very odd state. They have mostly filled their needs besides left field and the bullpen. They recently signed former Reds outfielder Ryan Ludwick to a minor league deal with a Spring Training invite.They have a lot of interesting options to man left field, here are three options for the Rangers.
Ludwick signed with the team today and could end up being the starting 2015 left fielder. He had a .275 batting average with 26 home runs for the Reds in 2012. This would be the choice if he regains his form from 2012. He obviously isn't going to be the long term solution since he is 36 years old. Look for the Rangers to hold still on outfielders until Spring training when they find out how healthy Ludwick is and if he is ready to take over the starting role.
Ryan Rua/Jake Smolinkski/Michael Choice~
This would be the options if the Rangers want to go with a young in house option. Rua and Smolinkski had a nice 2014 campaign at the end of the season. Smolinkski is clearly out there for defensive purposes and Rua is a more hitting type outfielder. Smolinkski broke his foot last season but made some web gem type plays when he was healthy and out there. Rua had a .306 batting average last season between the Rangers, AAA and AA. He also had 18 home runs with 10 in AA. Choice the Rangers would like to step up and take the job but had an awful 2014 campaign and just flat out slumped. Choice the guy who the Rangers got for former Outfielder Craig Gentry before last season had high expectations but was awful last season. He is a home run hitter but he needs to work on his strikeout rate if he can do this he is the man for the job. Two of these three players could make a decent platoon in left field.
One option the Rangers could look at is to try to trade for a star outfielder. They could try to trade for Carlos Gonzalez or Charlie Blackmon. Both of these stars would provide instant pop in the Rangers outfield but they would have to part ways with a couple of their top prospects. There only hope on the free agent market would be Ryan Doumit, Reed Johnson, and Scott Hairston. I highly doubt the Rangers go to this market because there are only old platoon guys when they have good platoon outfielders already.
What I think they will do~
I think the Rangers will likely go into the season with Ryan Ludwick starting and Smolinkski and Choice being the back up outfielders. The Rangers would want to keep Smolinkski on the roster because he can be a late innings defensive replacement at center field and left field. They will keep either Choice or Rua likely on the roster because they both can hit and play either left field and be a back up DH too. The loser of that battle likely goes to AAA until a injury or a slump happens. Whatever the Rangers do they'll likely have a platoon system.
Baseball is,was, and always will be the greatest game in the world
Jake Wesley is now the only writer for MLB_NL_AL.com all of these articles are ether based on facts and pieces of his opinion.