Hey, who saw connective tissue developing out there between a Kris Bryant trade, Josh Donaldson, the Rangers, and Nick Castellanos? Actually, now that I think about it, it’s not so crazy. But still. The offseason does take you on some twists and turns.
Despite the big bummer of not landing Anthony Rendon to man third base, the Rangers are not immediately jumping on free agent Josh Donaldson as many expected they would. Instead – and, hey, it could all be gamesmanship – the Rangers are signaling that their interest in Rendon was less about landing a huge bat at third base, and more about landing the right huge bat.
That might mean they have always preferred a guy like Bryant to Donaldson, regardless of his availability in free agency, and it also might mean they want to target a non-third-base bat in free agency.
Per Evan Grant, the Rangers have talked to Josh Donaldson’s agent, but the Rangers would “likely” have to go to four years to get him, which “is a risky proposition.” Morever, GM Jon Daniels says the Rangers will address third base in one way or another, but “I wouldn’t assume that we view the options exactly as they have been portrayed publicly.”
In other words, the Rangers very specifically wanted Anthony Rendon for third base. When that didn’t happen, they aren’t just shifting to the next third baseman on the list, and instead are going to pursue all/other avenues to add a big bat. To that end, sources tell Grant that the Rangers have talked to Scott Boras about Nick Castellanos, who could play in the outfield or could work in at first base (apparently). It’s not hard to see Castellanos as a fit on the Rangers, who just traded away outfielder Nomar Mazara, and who have only a “meh” mix of options in the outfield (outside of Joey Gallo), at first base, and at DH.
Interestingly, though, Daniels hints that the Rangers would be more likely to make a big trade for a guy with one or two years of control (sure seems like he was talking about Bryant) if they had *already* secured big-time free agents that they wanted. He doesn’t want fall-back options – he wants to max out (gotta respect that).
So where does that leave things? Well, I think if you take it all together, you can surmise that the Rangers aren’t going to go balls out on a Kris Bryant trade acquisition unless they are able to make other significant additions, too (query whether they would have enough to get Bryant anyway – they are not at all our preferred trade partner for the Cubs). They may not go hard after Josh Donaldson, which would stink for the Bryant trade market. Instead, they may come after Nick Castellanos, which, if they sign him, might make them more likely to try to pursue Bryant aggressively.
Rooting interests? Well, I suppose you are hoping this is all just public negotiation with Donaldson’s camp, since that would take him off the market for other teams, and might also make the Rangers a little less likely to push for Bryant (though they could presumably trade for him as an outfielder). And if you’re among the ever-hopeful Cubs fans who want to see them find a way to retain Castellanos down the road, again, you’re hoping the Rangers are just blowing smoke to try to get a deal done with Donaldson.