Once a crown jewel prospect for the Texas Rangers, Nomar Mazara’s days with the team could now be numbered.
Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reported on Wednesday that trade interest in the 24-year-old outfielder is “picking up,” particularly from teams that could contend in 2020.
Mazara, the No. 14 overall prospect in the 2015 class, is batting a career-low .252 this year and is already in his fourth MLB season without showing any signs yet of a true breakout. But his power hitting and the fact that he is under team control through 2021 might give him just enough upside to incentivize a contender to trade for him.
As for the Rangers, they are slipping out of the playoff picture at 51-51 and could be moving another notable name in the coming days as well.
For most teams, we’re a quarter of the way through the Major League Baseball season, and right about at the point that teams can begin assessing what their prospects are. It’s also a point where we can review performances to date and look at who’s struggling and who’s starring for each team. Here, we’re going to be focusing on the players who have led their teams, no matter how the club is doing in the grand scheme of things.
Here is the best player for each MLB team so far in 2018.
Arizona Diamondbacks — A.J. Pollock, OF
A couple of pitchers have a case here, but in a year where the Arizona offense has been surprisingly underwhelming, Pollock has carried them. The outfielder is hitting .293 with 11 home runs and 10 doubles, easily pacing the team in OPS. Unfortunately he is expected to miss 4-8 weeks with a thumb injury, because he was working on a potential MVP season before that.
The Texas Rangers have made a splash in the international free agency market, spending a reported $9 million to lock up three Dominican prospects. The most notable agreement they appear to have reached is one with 16-year-old outfielder Nomar Mazara, who will be receiving a $5 million bonus according to Enrique Rojas. That’s record money for an international prospect, beating the $4.25 million the A’s gave pitcher Michael Ynoa in 2008. Before we discuss whether or not he was worth the money, let’s share what we know about him.
According to a scouting report on Baseball America, via MLBTR, Mazara is a 6’5″ left-handed hitter. They say he has the best power of any Latin American hitter, but that he also has a propensity for strikeouts. MLBTR says Rojas said Mazara has the best power of a Latin American hitter since Wily Mo Pena and Miguel Cabrera (though we can’t track that quote down).
So now that you know what scouts are saying about Mazara, I ask you the question: is a 16-year-old prospect worth a $5 million bonus?
Spending $5 million on a 16-year-old from the Dominican is not something teams want to do, but it’s something they have to do to win a bidding war, and obviously the Rangers felt Mazara was worth it. If Mazara has the potential to be a Miguel Cabrera-type hitter, then spending $5 million to have him in their system is worth it.
Here’s the issue: can you even tell how good a player will be when he’s 16?
Players don’t develop at 16 in baseball. It’s even difficult to tell how good prospects are when they’re 18. However, for the elite talents — the guys like Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez, or Bryce Harper — you can tell they’re that good at 16. If Mazara is in that class, then he’s worth the money. If he’s not, it really isn’t a huge risk for Texas when you think about it.