With the 2021 season coming to a close, we are going to look back at the year that was for members of the Texas Rangers. The season isn’t over yet, of course, but there are a number of players who are on the injured list or otherwise won’t be playing the rest of the way, so we can start by looking at those guys whose seasons are done, and once the season is over we can include guys who are still in action.
Today we are looking at first baseman Ronald Guzman.
I forget that Ronald Guzman was around this season. I mean, I remember the discussions this spring, the reports about Guzman reworking his swing and having great results in winter ball, the talk that maybe the Rangers should option Nate (he was Nate, not Nathaniel, back then) Lowe and keep Guzman as the starting first baseman because Lowe had options and Guzman didn’t and Guzman was having a better spring.
You remember what happened from there...Khris Davis got hurt late in spring training and thus didn’t make the team, opening up a spot for Guzman to make the team along with Lowe. Lowe started the year as the first baseman, while Guzman was in a bench role backing up first base and DH while the team worked with him some in the outfield so he would have some more positional versatility.
Guzman had a brief appearance in left field on Opening Day in the bottom of the eighth inning after having pinch hit in the top of the inning, made a few starts at 1B and DH, and then got his first ever major league start in left field at Tampa Bay on April 12.
In the first inning, on a pop up to shallow left, Guzman came in for the ball while Isiah Kiner-Falefa went out. Guzman moved to avoid IKF, pulled up, went down, and as it turns out, his season was over. He had a torn meniscus in his right knee, undergoing surgery a couple of weeks later.
Final numbers on the season: .063/.118/.250 in 17 plate appearances. His one hit was a home run.
I’ve seen some suggestions that the Rangers should keep him around this winter and give him a chance to win a job in spring training. I don’t see Texas doing that — Guzman is now arbitration eligible, has no options remaining, and doesn’t really have a path forward for playing time with the Rangers in 2022. Guzman has three years of team control remaining after 2021, which limits the potential upside if he did turn a corner and improve offensively.
If the Rangers kept him on the 40 man roster all offseason they would likely just end up putting him on waivers this spring before the season starts and trying to outright him. By my count, there are 49 players on the 40 man roster or the 60 day injured list currently, and only four of them (Jordan Lyles, Spencer Patton*, Charlie Culberson, Brock Holt) are free agents at season’s end, so once the World Series is over and players have to be activated from the 60 day injured list, five players will have to be dropped from the 40 man roster. I am skeptical that there are five other guys on the 40 man roster currently that the Rangers would prefer to waive at that time, allowing them to become a free agent if they clear waivers, in order to keep Guzman around and try to waive and outright him later, or non-tender him and re-sign him.
* This assumes that I am correct in my assumption that Patton, like most players coming to the United States after playing in Asia, has a clause in his contract making him a free agent once his current deal is up.
My guess is that Guzman gets waived once the World Series ends, goes unclaimed, and then signs a minor league deal with some other team this offseason, seeking to get his once promising career (remember, he signed for a $3.5 million bonus in July, 2011, and in October of that year Jason Parks called him the best 16 year old hitter he had ever seen) revived with a new organization.