Posted on January 12, 2020, by Bryan Zarpentine

Todd Frazier
Image via cbssports.com

The Texas Rangers have taken their time this offseason, but now they’re starting to make some moves. On Sunday, the Rangers reached an agreement with third baseman Todd Frazier. It’s a one-year deal that will pay Frazier $3.5 million in 2020 with a $5.75 million option for the 2021 season. If the club declines the option, Frazier will earn a $1.5 million buyout, giving him at least $5 million in guaranteed money. The move comes a few days after the Rangers agreed to bring back veteran catcher Robinson Chirinos, helping to round out their lineup for the 2020 season.

Texas has been in search of a third baseman for most of the offseason. They’ve made an effort to sign free agents Anthony Rendon and Josh Donaldson, only to come up short. The Rangers have also been engaged in trade talks for Nolan Arenado, but again, the price has been too steep. Frazier could potentially slide over to first base, so the Rangers don’t have to give up their pursuit of Arenado or any other third basemen. However, it’s likely that he will be their everyday third baseman in 2020.

The almost 34-year-old Frazier is fresh off a two-year stint with the Mets. He struggled in 2018 but was able to bounce back last season. In 2019, Frazier hit .251 with an OPS of .772 with 21 home runs, 19 doubles, and 67 RBIs. His power is a far cry from where it was when he hit 40 home runs in 2016. But his OPS was actually higher in 2019 with 21 home runs than it was with 40 home runs. While he’s still strikeout prone and can struggle to hit for average, Frazier is still a productive hitter and adds depth to the back half of a major league lineup.

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As mentioned, Frazier is capable of playing first base, adding to his flexibility in the Texas lineup. The left-hand hitting Ronald Guzman is in line to be the team’s primary first baseman in 2020. But given his struggles against lefties last year, playing Frazier at first base against lefties could make sense. That would open up playing time at the hot corner for Nick Solak. While a natural second baseman, where he’s blocked by Rougned Odor, Solak saw time at third base last season. He also impressed with the bat, hitting .293 with an OPS of .884 in the first 33 games of his major league career.

At first glance, the recent additions of Frazier and Chirinos don’t make the kind of big splash the Rangers were hoping at the start of the offseason. But both should be upgrades over what Texas got from their third basemen and catchers last year. Both are also cost-effective additions. That leaves the door open for the Rangers to make an effort to sign an outfielder like Marcell Ozuna or Nick Castellanos. Adding another third baseman is also an option as well.

With modest additions to their lineup and a revamped rotation led by the acquisition of Corey Kluber, the Rangers will look a lot different in 2020 than they did a year ago. On paper, they are in much better shape to contribute. A veteran like Frazier should be worth a few extra wins in 2020, especially if the Rangers make another addition or two before the start of the season. Whether it’s enough to get Texas to the postseason remains to be seen. But with their improvements this winter, the Rangers should be a team to watch in 2020.

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