Tom Bogert, CBS Local Sports
The Texas Rangers seem ready to make a splash during the winter meetings. They are reportedly in ‘frequent contact’ with the Pittsburgh Pirates’ star Andrew McCutchen, according to Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, and they’ve expressed interest in Cincinnati Reds outfielder Billy Hamilton, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney.
Obviously McCutchen would come at a much steeper price as he’s an MVP caliber star. The 30 year old is coming off a down year, after batting just .256 with 24 home runs and 79 runs batted in. The career .292 hitter should bounce back next season, and it doesn’t look like it’ll be in Pittsburgh as the Washington Nationals and other teams are in the chase for McCutchen.
The Rangers had Ian Desmond, a lifetime shortstop, in center field last season. McCutchen would ostensibly be an upgrade, as he would over almost all other center fielders in the league, and Hamilton’s legs would be a supreme upgrade defensively. Desmond and the Rangers are still talking about a return and they’d surely be able to facilitate Desmond plus one of McCutchen or Hamilton.
Hamilton’s roadrunner speed will always enamor front offices, managers and fans, but his bat will continue to hold down his ceiling. In his three full seasons in the majors, the 26 year old has batted .250, .226 and .260 respectively. If he can maintain .260, which he did in only 400 at bats through a few DL stints and some sitting vs. matchups, then the Rangers would gladly signup for that.
On the bases, he’s an absolute nightmare. The past two seasons, he’s swiped 57 then 58 bases and was caught only 8 times each season.