Nomar Mazara has gone from an expected foundational piece with the Rangers to a platoon outfielder whose future is somewhat up in the air, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News writes. Texas is committed to getting lengthy looks at Willie Calhoun and Scott Heineman in the outfield, and when Joey Gallo returns from the IL, he’ll reenter the outfield mix as well. Mazara, meanwhile, has the worst OBP against left-handed pitching of any qualified hitter in the AL and ranks near the bottom in terms of average and slugging as well. He’s nearing the conclusion of his fourth full year in the big leagues, and while he’ll likely put together his fourth 20-homer season — he’s at 15 presently — he’s never produced even a league-average offensive season based on OPS+ or wRC+. He’ll be arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter and earn a raise on this year’s $3.3MM salary. Texas has some in-house alternatives and the ability to spend in free agency, and Mazara drew some interest prior to the July 31 trade deadline. It’d be painful to sell low on the former top prospect, but it’s clear that his stock has dropped considerably.
Some more news and notes from the AL West…
- Asked during a conference call about the Mariners’ plans in free agency this winter (link via Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times), general manager Jerry Dipoto replied: “We don’t expect to go into the offseason scouring the free-agent market at the top of the food chain.” That shouldn’t be a particularly surprising stance for anyone to see, as the Seattle club has made it abundantly clear that its rebuild will be a multiyear process. With Felix Hernandez’s contract coming off the books and just over $86MM committed to next season’s payroll at present, the Mariners will have plenty of money to spend, but those funds seem likelier to be allocated to stopgaps, potential summer trade chips and/or mid-range free agents than to any top-tier talent. As Divish points out, Seattle would have overpay (substantially, most likely) in order to sway any free agent to join a club that just lost 90-plus games and is publicly rebuilding.
- The Mariners will consider moving to a six-man rotation in the near future, MLB.com’s Greg Johns writes. Well-regarded pitching prospects Justus Sheffield and Justin Dunn, acquired in the offseason deals for James Paxton and Edwin Diaz, respectively, will likely join the club by September. Felix Hernandez, too, could return in September. Such an arrangement could help Seattle in monitoring the workload of rookie Yusei Kikuchi and also preventing Marco Gonzales from a radical increase in his innings count from 2018. Sheffield was given a reprieve from the comically hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League recently and has dominated Double-A opposition with a 1.64 ERA and 65-to-14 K/BB ratio in 60 1/3 innings of work. Dunn has also spent the year in Double-A, compiling 100 1/3 innings of 3.59 ERA ball with 10.7 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9.
- Angels right fielder Kole Calhoun knows that with Jo Adell looming, the team has an affordable alternative to his $14MM club option, but he tells Mik DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times that he’s focused more on his current play than his contractual status. “I’m worried about playing now, and what happens will happen,” said Calhoun. “[Adell] is definitely a great player. He’s a young guy, and we’ll see how he continues to develop, but the talent is there. He’s going to be a big league player for a long time.” Calhoun has been the Angels’ primary right fielder since 2014 and, with the exception of a down season in 2018, has been a generally underrated player. Still, it’s questionable whether the Angels or another club would value him at a net $13MM — the option has a $1MM buyout — in advance of his age-32 season. Free agents entering their mid-30s haven’t fared well in recent years, and corner bats in particular have struggled on the open market. Calhoun’s case is surely helped by the fact that a good bit of his value is tied to his glove and a 10.2 percent walk rate across the past four seasons.