By Ian Kay
In a relatively minor deal, the Rangers acquired infielder/outfielder Christian Guzman (.282 AVG, 44 R, 2 HR, 25 RBI, 4 SB) from the Nationals on Friday for a couple of low-level pitching prospects.
Mixed leagues: Owners in mixers with 12 or fewer teams only to worry about this deal for one reason: It may mean Ian Kinsler isn’t coming back from that groin strain any time soon. Sure, it’s possible Texas just wanted a better backup middle infielder than Joaquin Arias. But with an 8.5 game lead in the AL West, would they really trade for Guzman if they expected Kinsler back by mid-August? Owners invested in the All-Star keystone should make sure they have a backup they’d be comfortable using for most of August and possibly September, too — preferably one more productive than Guzman.
Ian Desmond and Adam Kennedy should each receive a playing time boost in Washington as a result of the move. Desmond is the more valuable of that pair. His approach at the plate is still a little raw (66K, 15 BB), but he has the talent to hit four or five homers and swipe as many bases down the stretch.
AL-only: A .280-plus average at a middle infield slot — even without much power or speed — certainly holds value in these formats. The Rangers’ stacked lineup and Arlington’s August heat figure to increase Guzman’s run and RBI totals, and the 32-year-old’s versatility (20-plus games at 2B, SS; 8 at OF this season) could earn him a few starts per week even after Kinsler returns. If you’re starting Maicer Izturis, Mike Aviles or Mark Ellis, Guzman will likely be an upgrade over the season’s final two months.