MLB trade rumors: The Texas Rangers have checked in on Starling Marte, the Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder who has been drawing interest from around the league, according to Jon Heyman on Twitter. Heyman says that the New York Mets, the Arizona Diamondbacks, and the San Diego Padres have also talked to the Pirates, with the Mets having gone so far as to have exchanged some names with the Pirates.
Marte is someone we have talked about this offseason as potentially making sense for the Rangers — a 31 year old righthanded hitter with a career .287/.341/.452 slash line and seven straight seasons of at least 21 steals, Marte is owed $11.5 million for 2020 and has a $12.5 million team option for 2021 with a $1 million buyout. Marte has played center field for the Pirates for the last two seasons after previously having primarily been a left fielder.
If the Rangers think Marte can handle center field, he would be a perfect fit for Texas, giving them someone who could hold the position down for the next seasons, after which one would hope Leody Taveras would be ready to step in. However, there are questions about his defense in center, and whether he would be better suited to move back to left field.
Its unclear what the Pirates would be looking for in a deal, though Heyman says the Pirates “may prefer prospects” rather than outfielder Brandon Nimmo, whose name came up in talks with the Mets. I’m also not sure the degree of interest the Rangers have -- “checking in” could mean simply doing due diligence, and the Rangers, like the Padres, who are also listed as having touched base, have a reputation for being active in that regard.
Center field is, along with third base, the biggest priority for the Rangers right now as they look to shore up their lineup. And who knows...maybe if the Padres get in on Marte, the Rangers could see about prying Manuel Margot away from them to play center.