Friday newsletter time: Evan Carter promotion signals Rangers’ plans for 2024
(Wang Brothers Photography)
Before we get into the Evan Carter promotion too deeply, here’s a video reminder of what the industry thought in 2020 when the Rangers selected the outfielder in the second round of the draft, 50th overall:
— Jeff Wilson (@JeffWilsonTXR) September 7, 2023
The amateur scouting department shouldn’t party too hard, but Carter’s development is a victory for a group that was hammered for lousy drafts over many years. Cole Ragans (2016), the American League Pitcher of the Month, counts as an amateur-scouting win, even though he’s no longer with the organization.
Carter will be making his MLB debut tonight against the A’s in a game the Rangers can’t lose. He will be in either left field or center field against Oakland right-hander Paul Blackburn. If trends continue, the Rangers will have Carter toward the bottom of the lineup even though he has been an on-base machine in the minors.
The thought is to take as much pressure off of him as possible, especially with the Rangers trying desperately to end a miserable three-week stretch that has them on the outside of the postseason picture.
Carter is also replacing Adolis Garcia, a two-time All-Star who has 34 home runs and 100 RBIs. He also has a right patella strain that might keep him out the rest of the season.
That’s a lot of production for one man to replace, especially a 21-year-old who has 34 career Triple A at-bats.
The Rangers, though, didn’t seriously consider any other options, which speaks to how highly they think of Carter and that they believe he is a real option to open 2024 on the major-league roster.
They don’t have a left fielder for next season. They have a center fielder. Leody Taveras, through all the ups and downs, is going to finish the season as an above-average player. He has a 1.7 bWAR, in part because of his defense and base running. He has a 95 OPS+, which is a tick below average, but he’s batting .263 with 12 home runs.
An outfield of Carter, Taveras and Garcia would be a boon for the pitching staff, as not too many balls will be falling between that trio. First-rounder Wyatt Langford is at Double A Frisco and could wiggle is way into the outfield picture at some point next season.
The Rangers aren’t looking that far ahead just yet. They are looking to Carter to help them reverse course and get back into the postseason picture over their final 23 games.
Left-hander Jordan Montgomery, coming off his worst start since being acquired at the trade deadline, is scheduled to start tonight against the A’s, and he will be followed by right-hander Jon Gray and lefty Andrew Heaney.
That would mean that Nathan Eovaldi would start Monday at Toronto and be followed by Max Scherzer on an extra day’s rest. He said after his start Wednesday that the best thing for his forearm tightness is rest.
The Rangers have some flexibility if they want to push Scherzer back another day, potentially sliding Martin Perez or Cody Bradford into the rotation for a spot start. Scherzer, though, said on Wednesday that he expects to be good to go for his next start on schedule.
Until then, the best thing that could happen for the bullpen would be if Montgomery, Gray and Heaney were to go six or seven innings apiece, not combined as has been the case with the rotation lately. Montgomery and Gray can do it. Heaney seems doubtful.
With Eovaldi to follow, possibly going three innings, two straight short outings will tax the bullpen even more.
Card of the Week
This Card of the Week is a repeat. It’s one of the gems of my son’s autograph haul from spring training, and he got this one without raising the ire of Rangers media relations.
It’s Carter’s 2020 Bowman Draft Chrome 1st Bowman.
One reader said in the spring that we need to get this card graded immediately. We haven’t followed through on that yet, but I know a guy who knows a guy.
The promotion to the majors should do wonders for the short-term value of Carter rookies. It’s probably worth monitoring eBay.
This might be the only autographed rookie in our collection, but it’s not the only rookie in our collection.
Baby needs new shoes! (Note: If my wife turns up with another baby, I’m calling a lawyer.)
It’s the weekend. Go crazy … and get some rest. Enjoy.
— out of context dogs (@contextdogs) September 7, 2023
Jeff Wilson, firstname.lastname@example.org