Rangers appoint Willie Calhoun, select Steele Walker

Rangers appoint Willie Calhoun, select Steele Walker

Rangers have announced they have selected the outfielder contract Steele Walker. Infielder Andy Ibanez was chosen to make room for him on the active roster. To create space on the 40-man roster, outfielder Willie Calhoun has been designated for assignment.

Walker, 25, was originally drafted by the White Sox but joined Rangers as a trade return which sent Nomar Mazara in Chicago. In 2020 and 2021, Baseball America considered him one of the Rangers’ top 30 prospects, although he was dropped from the list this year after a disappointing 2021 campaign. In 111 games between Double-A and Triple-A last year, he hit .241/.308/.400 for a wRC+ of 83. 126 wRC+.

That line comes in just 20 Triple-A games, but that’s obviously enough for the club to want to see if they can take it to the big leagues with them. Kole Calhoun and Adolis Garcia have been mainstays in the Texas outfield, even though it’s a rotating cast of characters who have dressed alongside them, including Ibanez, Brad Miller, White Eli, Zach Reks and Nick Solack. Miller is on the disabled list and no one else has taken on a regular role enough, creating an opening for Walker to get that audition.

As for Willie Calhoun, the move will almost certainly end his tumultuous relationship with the Rangers organization. Just over a month ago, he was downgraded to Triple-A and didn’t mince words when discussing the situation, telling the media he asked the team to trade him. Besides, he also questioned the club’s training strategy. “I don’t agree with some of the new players’ hitting philosophies,” Calhoun said. “I don’t process this (information) very well. I’m not 6-4, 230 pounds; I can’t hit the pop-up home runs. I don’t have that leverage.

Calhoun was the headliner of the deal that sent Yu Darvish to the Dodgers, though he’s struggled to cement himself in the major leagues since then. In 253 games over the past six seasons, he has a career batting line of .241/.300/.407, 85 wRC+. Despite that slow production, he’s likely to spark interest in the league due to his status as a previous prospect, with teams hoping a change of scenery could help get his career back on track. Despite many up and down seasons, he’s only 27 and entered this campaign with three years and 33 days of MLB service. He’s in his final option year, which means any acquiring team wouldn’t even have to commit to an active spot for Calhoun, and could control him beyond this season through arbitration.

Of the three prospects Rangers had in the Darvish deal, AJ Alexis is now the last still with the organization, as Brendon Davis was lost to the Angels in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft ahead of the 2021 season. Alexy made his MLB debut last year but is currently struggling in Triple-A. Through 48 2/3 innings this year, he has a 6.29 ERA.

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