Called up from Double-A late last night, Rangers prospect Mike Olt is making his big-league debut tonight starting at first base and batting eighth.
Olt was primarily a third baseman in the minors and projects as a good defender there long term, but the Rangers already have one of the league’s best all-around third basemen in Adrian Beltre.
As for who he’ll be replacing when he plays … that’s not clear based on tonight’s lineup because manager Ron Washington is using an odd group versus left-hander C.J. Wilson. For one thing, Mike Napoli is on the bench. Beyond that Ian Kinsler is at designated hitter, Michael Young is at second base, Geovany Soto is at catcher, and Craig Gentry is in center field.
Trying to draw any conclusions from that is tough, but Washington indicated to reporters that Olt will play mostly first base and designated hitter versus left-handed pitchers, at least initially.
Olt played exclusively third base during his first two pro seasons, but this year he’s appeared in 13 games at first base and three games in right field along with 78 games at third base. Clearly the Rangers were preparing him for a potential call-up and new defensive role, and they decided to pull the trigger last night after Olt hit .288 with 28 homers and a .977 OPS in 95 games at Double-A.
The Yankees appear to have moved on from free agent Manny Machado this winter, but could they be turning their attention to Rockies superstar Nolan Arenado? That’s the idea floated by Andy Martino of SNY, who hears that GM Brian Cashman has been involved in recent discussions concerning the third baseman. No official comments have been made to the press yet, though, and it’s not clear whether the Yankees would prefer to pursue Arenado prior to the 2019 season or partway through it.
The 27-year-old infielder earned his fourth consecutive All-Star nomination, Silver Slugger, and Gold Glove award in 2018 after slashing .297/.374/.561 with 38 home runs, a .935 OPS, and 5.7 fWAR across 673 plate appearances. There’s no question he’s provided immense value to Colorado’s lineup over the last half-decade, and his consistency and incredible power at the plate helped form the basis of the record $30 million arbitration figure he presented to the team last week. The Rockies countered at $24 million, however, and in doing so may have jeopardized their chances of convincing the infielder to forego free agency in 2020 and take a long-term deal instead.
Assuming he declines to negotiate an extension with the Rockies, Arenado’s decorated résumé and career-best 2018 numbers should attract plenty of interest around the league — a reality that could put considerable pressure on the Yankees (or any other interested party) to finesse a deal sooner rather than later. For now, the club is prepared to enter the 2019 season with hot-hitting third baseman Miguel Andújar, whom Martino speculates would be the “centerpiece” of any trade with Colorado.