Texas Rangers transactions: While the rest of the baseball world was busy at the winter meetings gawking at Gerrit Cole’s new massive deal with the New York Yankees, the Rangers were quietly seeing the Nomar Mazara era come to a disappointing conclusion.
After years of hoping the once top prospect with the periodical prodigious power would blossom into Joey Gallo’s tag team partner as a core member of the rebuild, Mazara has instead been shipped to the Chicago White Sox for OF prospect Steele Walker.
Nomar Mazara was, of course, one of the final real wild west J2 bonus babies when A.J. Preller kept him hidden away long enough to land a then-record deal for a latin prospect in 2011.
After some up and down years in the low minors, Mazara broke out in the upper minors in 2014 and 2015 and was up with the Rangers for good in 2016 as a 21 year old when he took over for an injured Shin-Soo Choo in right field and never really relinquished the job for the next four seasons.
Unfortunately, however, while remarkably consistent, Mazara never progressed much from a average-ish hitter with 20-or-so dingers annually but rapidly declining outfield defense. Despite having elite raw power, Mazara never seemed to be able to join the launch angle revolution and contributed just 1.7 fWAR total in his four season despite being counted on to become a fixture in Texas through the next window of contention.
In return, the Rangers get Chicago’s 2018 second round pick Walker who was ranked No. 6 on MLB Pipeline’s White Sox rankings. Walker is from Prosper, TX and went to school at Oklahoma but is already only a year younger than Mazara and a year or more away from reaching the big leagues if that’s indeed in the cards for him. The early reports seem to indicate that if he makes it, it’ll be in left field as a platoon bat or bench player.
If Mazara was a sunk cost in Texas who needed to be dealt to free up right field for Gallo and avoid a lefty-heavy lineup, the Rangers could have done worse with the return. However, in the grand scheme of things, considering what Mazara needed to be, it is a disheartening result.
It’s a bitter end to a dubious process where perhaps meritocracy failed in Texas and sees the Rangers ship Mazara off as a 24-year-old with all the talent in the world to hit the ball but ultimately with a career OPS of .754 and rising arbitration costs.
By dealing Mazara now, the Rangers will save around $5.5 million that they can put into making the club better in 2020 and beyond as it was decided, and perhaps made clear, that Mazara himself wasn’t going to be able to do that.
Goodbye, Big Chill. You had a fun nickname.