This post was originally published at Hot Stove MLB. We’ve republished it here.
Over at Off the Bench we’ve written a lot about where this offseason’s free agents might end up. Some of the bigger names that generate all sorts of buzz are the likes of Aroldis Chapman (who threw an incredible pitch), Kenley Jansen, and Yoenis Cespedes, whom we think might end up back with the New York Mets, we were right. We even pondered about the final destination of lower profile players like Michael Saunders, but we never got so deep in the weeds as to discuss the fate of free agent first basemen Mitch Moreland. (Update: Moreland is a member of the Red Sox now)
Moreland has spent the last few seasons manning first base for the Texas Rangers, taking his place as the lowest profile position player on a team full of offensive studs. With Prince Fielder’s tragic forced retirement this summer, Moreland became the answer to the oft-posed question ‘So who’s the Texas Rangers’ first basemen these days anyway?’
But no longer. Moreland is now off to greener pastures- if you think you know where, you should definitely play our Free Agent Predictor– and first base is now up for grabs in Texas.
Waiting in the wings is long time uber-prospect Joey Gallo, a slugger with prodigious power but a penchant for striking out- a lot- and for being an Adam Dunn type who doesn’t get on base much when he isn’t walking or hitting the ball a bajillion feet.
Gallo got an extended look in Texas in 2015 but his 57 strikeouts in just 108 at bats pretty well proved that he wasn’t ready for big league pitching. In 2016, Gallo spent most of his time at AAA with Round Rock. There he punished 25 home runs, more than a quarter of his 86 hits, and batted .240, which is not half bad.
If Gallo can hit 25 bombs and bat .240 in the majors, the Rangers would be thrilled. Of course, he also struck out 150 to hit 68 walks in 433 plate appearances.
Gallo did make it back to the majors last season. He played in 17 games, had 25 official at bats, had one hit (it was a home run) and struck out a quite-literally-staggering 19 times.
Gallo batted 25 official times last season and didn’t strike out in 6 of them.
That right there is why Texas is likely hesitant to hand him the keys next spring. However, Gallo is now 23 years old and he kind of is what he is- a big power, big strikeout first basemen. The Rangers should give him the major league at bats necessary to adapt to major league pitching or prove that he can’t. Their lineup is potent enough that they can compensate for a few months if he flounders- Moreland wasn’t exactly Babe Ruth– and if Gallo does figure it out, he could be an absolutely monster.
Is the Joey Gallo era upon us in Texas? I have no idea. But neither do the Rangers. It’s time to find out once and for all.