Texas Rangers rumors: Drew Robinson, not Willie Calhoun, is the player the Rangers intend to have get the bulk of the playing time in left field to start the season, according to Evan Grant in his latest Inbox column.
Evan covers a variety of topics in this column, including who could be dealt at the deadline, but the thing that jumped out at me is his saying that, barring a very strong spring from Calhoun, the Rangers want to see if Drew Robinson can be a big league regular, and intend to have him platoon with Ryan Rua in left field to start the season.
That plan would make Robinson the backup center fielder as well, a position that I’m not sure he’s that well equipped to handle. The alternative would be for Rule 5 pick Carlos Tocci to be the fourth outfielder, rather than Rua, which would probably mean Robinson would be facing more lefthanded pitchers than you would prefer, unless you go with a Tocci/Robinson platoon that has Delino DeShields shuffling between center and left fields.
Robinson, who turns 26 in April, was a 4th round pick out of Silverado High School in Las Vegas in 2010, and while his progress up the minor league ladder hasn’t always been swift, he made it to the majors in 2017, and ended up putting up a .224/.314/.439 slash line while playing a variety of positions. Robinson’s versatility is a plus, particularly if the Rangers go with a three man bench, and he could be a useful role player for the Rangers going forward.
That said, it is surprising that Calhoun is behind Robinson in the pecking order. While there are questions about Calhoun’s glove, he’s a top prospect whose bat is major league ready right now. Calhoun got a brief look at the end of September last year, and doesn’t appear to have a lot to prove in AAA...and yet, if Evan is right, the Rangers’ plan to start him at Round Rock if he doesn’t blow them away in camp.
One would have to assume that, even if Calhoun gets sent down, he’ll be back up if he hits. And it is certainly possible that, in a year where the Rangers aren’t viewed as serious playoff contenders, the front office figures letting Calhoun spend enough time in the minors to keep him from accruing a full season of major league service time by the end of 2018 wouldn’t be a bad thing. In addition, given Shin-Soo Choo’s history of physical ailments, as well as Adrian Beltre’s leg issues, there’s a pretty decent chance that Calhoun would get a call up if and when one of those guys needs a stint on the disabled list.