The Texas Rangers have recalled Zach Reks and purchased the contract of Josh Smith, the team announced today. To make room on the 40 man and active roster for Smith, the Rangers have designated pitcher Albert Abreu for assignment. To make room on the active roster for Reks, the Rangers have placed Brad Miller on the injured list.
Reks has been up previously this year, and I was thinking there was a good chance that he would be activated today once Brad Miller left yesterday’s game due to a hip issue. Mitch Garver is apparently ready to play again, but he’s still limited to DH duties, which means that the Rangers’ bench would be down to two players if a move hadn’t been made to get a position player up. Having Reks come up to share left field duties with Eli White for the interim was the move that made sense.
What is somewhat surprising, however, is the decision to bring up infielder/sometimes outfielder Josh Smith. Smith, who turns 25 in August, was a second round pick of the New York Yankees out of LSU in the 2019 draft who came over to Texas in the Joey Gallo trade. Between COVID and injury, Smith had only played in 61 games when the Rangers acquired him, but he was someone the Rangers valued and targeted in the deal. After a few games in Hickory, the Rangers moved Smith to Frisco for the final month of the 2021 season, where he slashed .294/.425/.431. In 40 games for Round Rock, Smith has slashed .273/.382/.422.
Smith played all but one game at shortstop as a professional before 2022, but this year has split his time between third base, shortstop and center field. Smith was one of six minor leaguers invited to a leadership camp this winter by the Rangers, and earned raves in spring training. Once Josh Jung was determined to be out for the year, Smith was discussed as someone who could end up getting a look at third base at some point in 2022. I have to admit that I did not think Smith would be up this soon, however.
My guess is Reks will platoon in left field with White for the time being, and Smith, a lefthanded hitter, will platoon with Andy Ibanez at third base. Both left field and third base have been areas of concern for the Rangers this year, so Smith has the chance to seize a starting major league gig if he plays well.
I have not seen any indication as of yet as to how long Miller is expected to be out with his hip issue. Once he’s ready to return, the Rangers can take a look at how the left field and third base guys are performing and figure out who the odd man out is.
As for Abreu, he was acquired late in spring training, along with Robby Ahlstrom, in exchange for Jose Trevino. I thought the pickup was odd at the time, as Abreu was a hard-throwing righthanded reliever with command issues and no remaining options, and that is a combination of traits that the Rangers didn’t seem to have a compelling need for at the start of the year. The Rangers now have seven days to waive, trade or release Abreu. If they waive him and he clears waivers, he can be outrighted.