Yesterday, the Rangers played their final Spring Training game in Arizona before flying back to Texas. The game was a 10-4 loss to the Rockies, but let's be honest, the W-L record in Spring Training is about as meaningful as a sacrifice fly late in a 10-run ballgame.
With that final game in Arizona -- with only two exhibition games at Globe Life Park against the Mets standing between now and the regular season -- a finalized roster is beginning to take some sort of tangible shape. Before the game, Evan Grant reported that, per a source, the Rangers have chosen to keep Delino DeShields on the roster. The move is expected to be finalized on Sunday.
The immediate implication of that move is that Carlos Peguero, who came into Spring Training firing on all cylinders, will be the odd man out. My initial reaction was that I was both somewhat surprised and disappointed that Texas would keep what appears to be a pinch-runner on the roster over a guy that showed real flashes in Spring Training.
DeShields, a Rule 5 pick by Texas, must be kept on the roster for the entire season, lest they risk losing him on waivers, or being forced to offer him back to the Houston Astros for a mere $25,000.
Stepping back a little, it's easy to see what Texas likes. DeShields is still only entering his age-22 season despite having spent five seasons in pro ball prior to the 2015 season. He's athletic, provides some needed speed on the base paths, and has shown some occasional pop in his bat.
Carlos Peguero, on the other hand, is heading into his age-28 season, has struggled to hit during his stints in the Major Leagues, and despite putting up strong Spring Training numbers in the past, apparently didn't do enough to cause the Rangers to stop looking at DeShields with hopeful expectations. In 229 Major League plate appearances, Peguero posted an OPS of .623. The past probably hurt him more than his Spring performance could have possibly helped his case.
Since he was signed on a minor league deal, Texas can stash him in the minors for the time being, and can call on him should performance or injury force them to call his name. Beyond that, it was never really clear that Peguero would be able to play center field in a backup capability, something that DeShields should be more suited to do simply because of his speed.
Reportedly, scouts have been thrilled with what they've seen from Peguero, suggesting that he's doing things differently enough this year that he looks like a different guy. For their part, the Rangers just didn't bite on it. That said, I'm still not sure it's a move that Texas won't end up regretting a little bit. Only time will tell.
In keeping the more versatile and athletic player, however, Texas simply doubled down on their trend of picking up athletic players and trying to mold them into something that fills a need for the big league club. Kate Morrison highlighted that fact herself on Tuesday.
Going back to DeShields and his youth, it's important to note that he has yet to play at any level about Double-A, and heading into his age-22 season, likely still has some room to grow. It was only in 2010 that he was thought of highly enough to be the 8th overall pick by the Astros. Even Jim Callis suggested back in 2013 that DeShields might turn out to be a better player than Billy Hamilton. So there hasn't been a shortage of smart people that have thought highly of Delino DeShields.
In 507 Double-A plate appearances in 2014, DeShields put up a .236/.346/.360 line, good for a wRC+ of 108, indicating that he was above average -- offensively speaking -- compared to his peers. At High-A Lancaster in 2013, he put up a wRC+ of 133.
Whether or not DeShields can be something closely resembling those minor league results remains to be seen. Given that he has yet to actually make his Major League debut, the Rangers are apparently ready to have him learn a bit on the job, hoping that his athletic talents can translate to something more than "just an athlete".
If the 2014 season proved anything, it's that depth can be an important tool to have. That isn't to suggest that a few more depth players in 2014 would have prevented a disastrous season, but it very well may have proven to be a lesson learned. When your ball club loses 2,116 days to the disabled list, you're simply going to be more inclined to build a roster partially based on depth.
I'll be the first to admit that a large part of me wanted to see Carlos Peguero make this ball club. Beyond that, I wanted to see him succeed, even if only to calm down the "Jon Daniels screwed up by not re-signing Nelson Cruz" rumblings.
At the end of the day, the front office and club management -- including new manager Jeff Banister -- have the unenviable task of trying to put together the most complete roster possible coming out of Spring Training. Sometimes, that includes passing on a player that brings some flashiness to camp in order to build depth and athleticism into the roster. Considering the decision from that angle, I'm a bit less disappointed this morning than I was yesterday. Congratulations to you, Delino, and welcome to the Texas Rangers.
We're only about four days away from meaningful baseball being played again. I couldn't be more ready.