Lost amidst all the rumors and trade talk drama leading up to Monday’s trade deadline was Keith Law’s chat session yesterday, in which he answered a question on first baseman Ronald Guzman, currently toiling at AAA. Law said he saw Guzman’s ceiling as an above-average regular, and is optimistic about him being an everyday player. Guzman didn’t make Law’s midseason top 50 list, but he did identify him as a guy who got consideration but didn’t make the cut.
Guzman, who was part of the Rangers’ big 2011 J-2 class that included Nomar Mazara and Yohander Mendez, turns 23 in October, and is having a solid year for AAA Round Rock. Guzman is currently slashing .314/.384/.480, with 62 Ks in 396 plate appearances. There’s still questions about how much he’ll hit at the major league level, but he’s come a long way since he appeared to be in danger of becoming a non-prospect two years ago, when he put up just a 752 OPS in High Desert.
The emergence of Guzman also gives the Rangers some options in regards to how they want to structure their lineup in 2018. Mike Napoli is probably done as an everyday player, but is still hitting lefties well, and an $8.5 million price tag for 2018 for a role player who has a reputation for being a great clubhouse presence isn’t completely unreasonable. You could go into 2018 with Guzman having the opportunity to win a job splitting time at first base with Napoli, which would allow Shin-Soo Choo to DH, Adrian Beltre to be at 3B, and Joey Gallo to go to left field, though with Gallo also playing some 3B when Beltre DHs. Or you could put Gallo at 1B while Guzman is still in AAA, with some sort of platoon with Drew Robinson and either Ryan Rua or Delino DeShields in left.
In any case, Guzman appears to still be making progress, and is someone we could see making an impact as soon as next season. Him joining Gallo, Nomar Mazara and Rougned Odor would give the Rangers four regulars in their early-20s to use as their nucleus going forward.