Outfielder/DH Willie Calhoun was the prize piece coming over to the Texas Rangers in the deal that sent Yu Darvish to the Los Angeles Dodgers at the trade deadline — a player without a real defensive position, but who was close to major league ready with that bat, and who profiled as a potential middle of the order hitter.
Calhoun was assigned to the AAA Round Rock Express upon joining the Rangers, and he has hit the ground running — in 25 plate appearances over 6 games, Calhoun has 4 homers and 3 singles, putting up a .280/.280/.760 slash line. The .280 reflects no walks so far, but Calhoun also has just one strikeout — his profile in that regard is similar to what we see from Adrian Beltre, in that he isn’t going to walk or strike out a lot, but is going to put the ball in play and hit it hard.
The Rangers are going to have to decide come September 1 whether they want to purchase Calhoun’s contract and give him a taste of the major leagues. Calhoun isn’t Rule 5 eligible this offseason, so bringing him up would burn a 40 man roster spot this offseason which they wouldn’t have to use otherwise. The Rangers are also a bit crowded in the COF/1B spots — Drew Robinson and Ryan Rua, also corner players, are stapled to the bench right now, while Round Rock first baseman Ronald Guzman is already on the 40 man roster and would seem to be as much of a candidate for a callup as Calhoun.
This highlights a potential issue for the Rangers this offseason, in that they potentially have more players for the four corners and the DH spot in the majors than they have playing time for in 2018. Joey Gallo, Adrian Beltre, Nomar Mazara and Shin-Soo Choo are all looking likely to be back next year, with Guzman and Calhoun potentially being major league ready as well. The Rangers could potentially offer to eat half of the $62 million over three years still due to Choo to try to clear a spot, or they could potentially see if one of the young lefthanded hitters would be able to front a package for a young starting pitcher to plug into the rotation.
In any case, having to sort through lots of players you like and think can contribute for a smaller number of positions than players is a good problem to have, and Calhoun looks like a guy who will be fun to keep an eye on. Whether he gets a September cup of coffee or not, I expect he’ll have an impact on the major league team in 2018.