Hot Stove Talk: Nate McLouth


Note: This is part of our Hot Stove Talk series, which profiles issues, free agents and looks at possible trades the Texas Rangers could make this offseason.

Today's player: Nate McLouth

No, this isn't the biggest name on the market. But when you talk about needs for the Rangers, left field is certainly high on the list now that a power-hitting left-handed batter is in the fold in Prince Fielder. And there are scouts with the club that like McLouth.

McLouth has had an interesting last two seasons. He signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2012, but the depth outfielder just didn't have it and was released in May. He signed a minor-league deal with the Baltimore Orioles, was called up later that season and helped the team make a postseason push. Rangers fans may remember that McLouth had two RBIs and was instrumental in the Orioles' victory over Texas in the AL wild-card game in 2012. McLouth reached via error in the first inning, stole second and then scored the game's first run. He delivered the go-ahead RBI single off Derek Holland in the seventh and then added an insurance run on a sacrifice fly in the ninth.

Last season in Baltimore, McLouth was the primary left fielder, hitting .258 with 12 homers and 36 RBIs. He had 30 stolen bases, tied for ninth in the league. He was second among qualified leadoff hitters in that category and when he steals, he's usually successful, posting an 85 percent rate of swiping bases in his career.

McLouth isn't just a corner outfielder, either. He has played some center field in his career and won a Gold Glove in 2008 at that position.

Why he makes sense: With the addition of Prince Fielder and the subtraction of Ian Kinsler, the club has lost a potential leadoff man. Washington has indicated they will use Leonys Martin unless they acquire another leadoff hitter. McLouth would give them someone who could play leadoff. He would also add another left-handed bat and can play left field. The other plus: He won't cost as much as some of other free agents out there. MLB Trade Rumors guesses he'll get a two-year deal at $10 million.

Why he doesn't make sense: McLouth doesn't add any power to the club and while his speed and defense are a plus, the Rangers have that kind of player in Martin and Craig Gentry. McLouth also does not hit left-handed pitching well, so he'd have to be in the lineup against righties mainly.

Bottom line: This club will likely go after bigger bats this offseason, but I like the option of McLouth if some of the other names get too expensive. He would provide depth, defense and speed in the outfield.