The Rangers’ plans for first base in 2017 aren’t entirely clear, but it appears Joey Gallo does not top their list of potential starters at the position, as Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News notes. “We think Joey is going to be a very good player in this league, but when is still too early to say,” says GM Jon Daniels. “Ideally, he’d probably get a little more time, unless there is a big jump like Ryan Rua took last year.” Daniels cites Jurickson Profar and Rua as candidates for playing time at first.
Incumbent first baseman Mitch Moreland is a free agent this winter, and Gallo is a talented minor league slugger with a long history of hitting for incredible power — he’s hit 152 home runs, many of the light-tower variety, in parts of five minor league seasons. He’s a third baseman by trade, but he played 32 games at first base in for Triple-A Round Rock last season and would appear to be an obvious candidate to take over the position now that there’s a vacancy. The Rangers could also have playing time available at DH, depending on how this offseason shakes out.
Gallo also has obvious weaknesses, however. He struck out in nearly 35% of his plate appearances last year at Round Rock, and has whiffed a ridiculous 76 times in 153 plate appearances in the big leagues. He would likely have a hard time posting batting averages above the Mendoza Line without improvements in that category, and the Rangers might feel Round Rock is the best place to address his deficiencies. Gallo went to Venezuela this offseason to work on his game in winter ball, but has been sidelined by a hamstring injury.