The Texas Rangers, perhaps in a sense of desperation due to their struggles of late in the AL West, are calling up top prospect Mike Olt. Olt has replaced Brandon Snyder, who has played five positions for the Rangers this year, on the bench.
Olt should probably get some more substantial playing time for the Rangers this year instead of just coming off of the bench, though. For AA Frisco this year, the 24-year old Olt has 28 homers and a .977 OPS. In addition to his prodigious power, Olt possesses pretty good strike zone discipline, walking 14.5% of the time this season.
However, due to his primary position being third base (and Olt is a damn good defender there), Olt is immediately blocked in the majors by Adrian Beltre, a three win player (right now) that isn't going anywhere any time soon. However, the Rangers have had inconsistency at both first base and DH this year. Mitch Moreland, Michael Young, and Mike Napoli have all gotten substantial time at first this year, and the Rangers have gotten just a .750 OPS this year out of the position, eighth in the AL. At DH, primarily manned by the classy veteran Young, the Rangers are even worse. Texas DHs have just a .734 OPS for the season, tenth in the AL and just a fraction of a point higher than the Orioles.
Young is under contract for next season for $16 million, and because of that, it's doubtful that the Rangers will be willing to bench the 35-year old for a permanent basis. But man, he's really hurt the team this year with a .641 OPS and only three homers. Even Moreland, who the team has sent up and down to the minors this year, has an .829 OPS and ten homers…in less than half of the plate appearances that Young has had this season.
Because of the Rangers' refusal to trade Olt in any trade talks for Zack Greinke, Cole Hamels, Josh Johnson, or any other elite starting pitcher, it's obvious that the team thinks highly of him. But with Beltre under contract until 2015, and being owed $51 million over the final three seasons of the deal, Olt won't be taking over at third any time soon. And with Young being owed $16 million next season, Olt won't be stealing playing time from him. If Mike Napoli doesn't re-sign with the Rangers this offseason, I could definitely see the Rangers starting Olt at either first base or DH, and letting Young rot away at the other position. Of course, that will let the 26-year old Moreland rot away…but based on the overall struggles of his career in comparison to someone like Olt, I think he's going to get crunched out of the numbers game in Texas. The presence of Olt, the contracts of Young and Beltre, and the trade for Geovany Soto this week have apparently crunched out Napoli in the Rangers' future plans, and I'm not sure that's an awful thing for this team.