Texas Rangers rumors: Todd Frazier is getting work at first base today, according to T.R. Sullivan on Twitter, who says manager Chris Woodward has dubbed this a “big week” for Greg Bird and Ronald Guzman, the two primary first base candidates in camp.
When the Rangers signed Frazier to a one year deal with a club option this offseason, he was penciled in at first base, though part of the appeal of Frazier was that he could also present an option at first base, if necessary. At the time it appeared the first base option would be if the Rangers were to acquire, say, Kris Bryant or Nolan Arenado, young, top-notch third basemen who Frazier would move to make room for. When no such deal materialized, Frazier-to-first-base talk quieted down.
However, Isiah Kiner-Falefa has turned heads with a strong spring, as well as a stronger physique than last year, and he’s considered to be a terrific defender at third base. We discussed yesterday the possibility of IKF forcing his way into the lineup at third base, which would necessitate Frazier moving to first base. It appears that such a possibility is at least being considered at this point.
Ronald Guzman had a disappointing 2019 season that saw him get sent down to AAA Nashville in the second half, and while he had a strong finish to the season, he’s never been viewed as having a stranglehold on the first base job. The Rangers pursued free agent Nicholas Castellanos with an eye towards putting him at first base, and signed Greg Bird — like Guzman, a lefthanded hitting first baseman — to a minor league deal.
Heading into camp, it appeared that either Bird or Guzman would be the regular first baseman. Neither Guzman nor Bird are getting great reviews, however, and with Kiner-Falefa looking much improved from 2019, the Rangers could be considering putting IKF at third base and sliding Frazier over to first base, with neither Guzman nor Bird being on the roster. Alternatively, the Rangers could opt to send Guzman — who can be optioned to AAA — to Nashville, and keep Bird, who can opt out of his deal if he isn’t on the major league roster at the end of camp, as a part-time first baseman and bench bat.
Woodward has said he wants to have the first base situation settled before the final week, and Opening Day is just 16 days away, so a decision would appear to be getting made soon. And right now, one has to think that we could see a lot more of Isiah Kiner-Falefa at third base and Todd Frazier at first base than anyone would have imagined six weeks ago.