The Rangers continue looking for a center fielder following the potential departures of Ian Desmond and Carlos Gomez, and it appears one possible answer could be the Padres’ Travis Jankowski, according to T.R. Sullivan and AJ Cassavell, both of MLB.com.
Jankowski, of course, is not a big, or even medium, name, as Desmond, Gomez and potential trade target Billy Hamilton are. Jankowski graded as an outstanding defender in 2016, however, and could keep the Rangers strong up the middle. He posted an excellent 12.8 UZR and 8 Defensive Runs Saved in 2016, accumulating 2.1 Wins Above Replacement even as he batted just .245/.332/.313.
“[The] reality is that the better that we get defensively, the better we’re going to make our starting pitching and relief pitching core,” says Rangers manager Jeff Banister, via Sullivan. “The situation last year, [we were] a club that won 95 games; however, we still need to get better on defense.”
Another possible current option for the Rangers in center field is Delino DeShields, although it appears he is available in a trade, as Comcast SportsNet California’s Joe Stiglich tweets. DeShields struggled to get going in 2016, batting just .209/.275/.313.
The Padres, meanwhile, have Manuel Margot to man center field in the long term, and could have interest in Rangers 24-year-old infielder Hanser Alberto, who’s struggled to get established in the big leagues over the past two seasons. Alberto also hit a modest .275/.302/.411 at Triple-A Round Rock in 2016, suggesting he’s unlikely to hit much. He could, however, hold interest for Padres GM A.J. Preller, who helped sign Alberto as a member of the Rangers’ front office in 2009. Also, like Jankowski, Alberto has fared well defensively in limited big-league time, grading out well at both shortstop and second base. While the Padres have plenty of options at second, they don’t have as many at short, where their depth chart is topped by youngster Luis Sardinas. A possible Jankowski-for-Alberto swap, then, could help both teams upgrade defensively at positions of need.