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Texas Rangers rumors: Starling Marte potentially available

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Matt Kelly of MLB.com includes the Rangers as a team that could have interest in Pittsburgh outfielder Starling Marte

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Texas Rangers trade rumors: Starling Marte, Pittsburgh Pirate centerfielder and one of MLB’s better outfielders, could be moved this season by a Pirates team that appears to be overhauling its organization, and Matt Kelly lists the Rangers as a team that could have interest in Marte.

Marte, who just turned 31, is coming off a season where he slashed .295/.342/.503 and put up a 2.9 bWAR and a 3.0 fWAR. Marte has been a pretty consistent 3-4 WAR guy throughout his career, when he’s been healthy, and has won Gold Gloves in the past, although both UZR and DRS had him as well below average in center field last year.

If the Pirates make Marte available, there’s going to be quite a bit of interest in him — he’s got an $11.5 million team option in 2020 that is almost certainly going to be picked up, and a $12.5 million team option for 2021 that has a $1 million buyout. He’s got some power and some speed — he’s been a 20/20 guy each of the past two years — and his bat would play in a corner outfield position if you didn’t want to keep him in center field.

If we assume that the Rangers are serious about being a playoff contender in 2020, Marte would seem to be a good fit. He’s a righthanded bat on a very lefty-heavy team, and could step into the center field role that is currently in limbo. And you aren’t committing to him for a long period of time — you would have his age 31 and 32 seasons, where some decline is likely, but not a steep dropoff, and then he would be off the books at a point when you would hope Leody Taveras or Bubba Thompson would be ready for the big stage.

Now, this assumes that the Rangers make other moves as well — you wouldn’t go get Marte and then call it an offseason. Texas would need to get a third baseman, among other things — and while we have discussed Josh Donaldson, Mike Moustakas is also available, and if you are adding Marte, it would make Moustakas being a lefty bat less of an issue. And Texas still needs to get at least one, and preferably two, starting pitchers that you could plug into the rotation and count on — guys of the Lance Lynn variety, rather than the Shelby Miller models.

Of course, the price to acquire Marte wouldn’t be cheap. The Rangers have a lot of depth in their system, a lot of intriguing pieces, but not a ton of premiere talent. And Pittsburgh currently doesn’t even have a general manager, so it is hard to say what the Pirates would be looking for in return, or even if they’d be willing to deal Marte. But if you are looking to move from areas of depth, you could move one of your three third basemen who are all around the same level — Josh Jung, Davis Wendzel or Sherten Apostel — in a deal, as well as some of the myriad of relief arms populating the system.*

* Note that Wendzel and Jung can be traded once the World Series is over under the new CBA rules, and would not be players to be named later. Also note that I’m not saying one of the third basemen and a couple of random arms would get you Marte.

There’s a number of moving pieces here — however, if you could acquire Marte, that would allow you to put Joey Gallo in a corner spot and have Delino DeShields as your fourth outfielder. Say you go get Josh Donaldson on a short term deal, and you have a lineup that looks like this:

Choo — DH

Marte — CF

Gallo — RF

Donaldson — 3B

Calhoun — LF

Elvis — SS

Odor — 2B

Guzman — 1B

Catcher — C

If you roll that out there with a rotation that has a couple of solid starters added to Lance Lynn, Mike Minor and the internal options, that’s a team that could be interesting in 2020.