Before spring training shut down, the Rangers’ Isiah Kiner-Falefa made his presence known while vying for the 26th roster spot. Kiner-Falefa, 25 on Monday, put up big numbers this spring after ditching a high leg kick – though his swing could use further simplification, per Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. Kiner-Falefa returned home to Hawaii for now, but when/if the season reboots, he’ll have a chance not only to crack the Rangers’ roster, but to play a significant role. Kiner-Falefa brings interesting upside to the Rangers’ roster because of his positional versatility. The past two seasons he has not only served as the Rangers’ backup catcher, appearing in 35 and 38 games behind the dish, respectively, but he’s also seen time at third base and in the middle infield. The bat has not been there over the course of his first two big-league seasons (.253/.315/.344, 71 wRC+), but given what they saw thus far in the spring, expectations are that Kiner-Falefa could push for additional playing time at third base where Todd Frazier is slated to sit first chair. Elsewhere out west…
- The Oakland Athletics have a few positions still up in the air after truncated spring training, per MLB.com’s Martin Gallegos. Second base remains likely in the hands of favorites Franklin Barreto and Tony Kemp. Presumably, Kemp could protect Barreto against tough right-handers while getting his feet wet in the big leagues. Kemp’s value largely comes as a clubhouse presence and versatile offensive contributor, to use the term loosely, as he has struggled at the dish with a .233/.314/.367 career line. Kemp, 28, has yet to produce a slugging percentage over .400 for a full season, and it’s hard to imagine his power playing up in the Coliseum.
- That said, Gallegos makes the argument that the more compelling battle was that of the two presumptive backups: Jorge Mateo and Vimael Machin. Mateo, 24, has more name recognition, and his speed and athleticism certainly make him worth watching. He’s out of options, and if he doesn’t make the team out of camp, Mateo is unlikely to make it through waivers given his bench-ready skillset. That’s extra incentive to keep him around, but they face the same issue with Machin, a Rule 5 pick from the Cubs. The A’s could try to work out a deal with Chicago to keep Machin, 26, in the organization. Otherwise, the roster crunch is real, as none of Mateo, Barreto, or Kemp have any options remaining. Chad Pinder is already entrenched as the primary utility option off the bench, leaving probably one spot max in the long-term for the runners-up in the battle for second base.
Welcome to the national league Rangers and Athletics!!
We must be getting 2 expansion teams in the AL they forgot to tell us about! Come on down Nashville Grand Ol’ Opries and the Portland Weirdos!
Uh, AL West? Mateo is certainly an interesting piece and I wonder if he becomes trade bait.
AL West…. not NL West.
You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em. Know when to walk away, and know when to run.
dynamite drop in monty
The man makes a mean bird.
Hey! Bad Chicken! Mess You Up!
it’s the wood that makes it good
dynamite drop in monty
I’m so glad I can count on you guys when it comes to primo Seinfeld refs.
Mateo will probably make the team as a back up OF option. If Piscotty is not ready by opening day.
The A’s are being really stupid by keeping Tony Kemp, the lowest ceiling of the four. He’s terrible at baseball. Unless they figure out his swing just cut him and keep Barreto and Mateo and let Barreto play everyday for 3 months to see how good/bad he is. All players need regular PT and so many teams stuck in the past, like Beane is, seem to think mixing and matching daily works better and will work every time, because it worked one time 5 years ago. Beane struggles to adapt to a world he created, ya hate to see it.
Only reason Kemp makes the team is because he is a lefty hitter. His defense is not so good. A’s lack left handed batters. I rather see barretto play everyday if he cuts down on strike outs he could be a steady bottom of order hitter.
The only reason you hate kemp is,because he,is African American. The only people who say he sucks is white racist media reporters. You are a terrible racist Strikefour.
um…whatever you say dude
losbravos69 if kemp was that great it would have cost the A’s a lot more than a no name A ball player to get him. kemp is a back up player on any team. Why didn’t the braves pick him up? Do they hate him too?
You’re part of the problem. Tony kemp is replaceable.
@LosBravos69 Its people like you who find racism in nothing that make people who are actually against racism look bad. Maybe keep your thoughts to baseball on here?
Apparently you havnt seen the way strikefour berates people for being racist because nobody will sign puig when its really cause he’s a clubhouse nuisance. Guess the obvious joke and irony flew over your head lol smdh. He does exactly what I just posted so I was making a point about how ridiculous he is. Look on any other post. Can’t believe you took me seriously
Lol whatever you say bro
i quite like IKF. I think he could certainly become a great utilityman
I think we’re evolving to the point where every team has an IFK (who has a plus-plus personality to boot). Austin Barnes, HOFer Blake Swihart come to mind. But really, the model of a catcher, especially the backup, as being some kind of lumbering lummox, is pretty much a dead one. This is a good thing.
Work load studies are in vogue now, and that’s another good thing. Sure, Cal Ripken can play 162; but is he at max performance during all of those 162? How much do you lose with a rested IFK , say, in any given game, vs. a tired Cal.? Of course, no fan wants to pay good money to watch a backup short stop on a Sunday afternoon; that’s what Monday night games in Tampa and Miami are for.
It take some creativity and buy-in (and some legitimate and rational metrics), but it works out best for all involved.
Bobberino I wouldn’t confuse less than a handful of teams having versatile catchers into saying that the days of the big ol boy playing backup catcher are over. There are plenty of Twinkie pounding fat boys playing behind the plate. Sandy Leon isn’t a T-Rex just yet!
Will be interesting to see if the 26 man roster throws some cold water on the versatile catcher movement. That extra spot could really let you have a very strong defensive catcher backup and allow you to focus on the other bench guys for versatility.
there will always be value in a versitile catcher, especially in the NL. im not sold on 3 catcher only options on a roster, but when one can play another position you are really in business.
It was pretty funny to see it as the nl earlier
why not just give pinder the starting second base job? i think he deserves every day at bats. every time hes given the chance he actually plays pretty decent
I love Pinder, but he was exposed last year. Given a starting role, his hitting dropped off the map in the second half.
Because chad pincer is not a major league 2nd baseman… he’s stiff and kinda brick handed there… he’s a much better OFer
I still believe Kiner-Falefa will end up as an everyday 3rd baseman for some club, hope its the Rangers. Being a great contact hitter with some power is not a bad thing. Todd Frazier is a great player also and can play third, as he has, but possibly 1st also. That would be a wise move for the Rangers so it probably wan’t happen. Good luck to Kiner-Falefa, you have the talent.
I agree with everything in this post except the first, third and fourth sentences. Now if the second sentence is specifically referring to Kiner-Falefa, then I disagree with that too. If it’s a general statement then it’s fine. As for the fifth sentence, I certainly agree with it up until the comma. The words after the comma are debatable.
so much written to say so little…
Bad finger, u r 100% spot on.
Franklin Barrett has played in 80 games at the major league level over the last 3 seasons. I would say his feet are wet. The fact that he can’t stick around after 20+ games each season means he is in over his head.
Many of those games were PH duty. 53 of those 80 games were in the field. Only 350 innings on the field that is less than 36 games played on the field in 3 seasons.
I wouldn’t read much into the MLB performances but you have to be highly concerned about the strike out issues. That’s what is going to derail him from being a capable big leaguer. Tons of tools but if you can’t make contact 35+% of the time you’re in big trouble.
And unfortunately PCL inflated AAA stats aren’t a great barometer either.
Franklin Barreto if talented. The A’s just need to let him play without the pressure of being playoff contenders.
Yes, the A’s should tank their season so Franklin Barreto can feel comfortable.
Sorry I’m so late to this thread, but thank you TC Zencka for mentioning IKF in one of these posts, he deserves the credit.
Does anyone think that Machin could be returned to the Cubs and factor into their second base mix?
With 29-man rosters to open the season, A’s camp battles are over, and Seth Brown is also onboard. Brown, Grossman & Kemp can bat left in the OF, Machin, Kemp & Brown (at 1B) can bat left in the IF, Heim being a switch-hitter behind the plate.