Back in August, we identified Texas Rangers outfielder Nomar Mazara as a potential offseason trade candidate -- noting that Texas had, at one point, rejected a trade that would have swapped Mazara with Cleveland starter Shane Bieber, per industry sources. The Rangers traded Mazara on Wednesday to a different American League Central club, sending him to the Chicago White Sox for outfield prospect Steele Walker, the team announced.
Mazara, 24, was once one of the top prospects in baseball. He's since played in most of four full seasons without fulfilling his past promise. For his career, he's hit .261/.320/.435 (93 OPS+) while averaging 20 home runs per season. Those numbers would be acceptable from a corner outfielder if he were a good fielder, or came without a platoon split. Alas, Mazara is a below-average defender and has been pitiful against same-handed pitchers throughout his career, posting just a .633 OPS against lefties.
The White Sox will hope they can coach more out of Mazara, the way they did with Tim Anderson and Yoan Moncada in 2019. To Mazara's credit, he does hit the ball a touch harder than the league-average batter -- he's just hampered by an overly aggressive approach. The White Sox figure to pair him in the outfield with Eloy Jimenez and, once he's promoted from the minors, top prospect Luis Robert.
As for the Rangers, they clear a spot and some cash to pursue alternate outfield options. They also receive Walker, who we classified as the "riser" in the Chicago system. Here's what we wrote:
A second-round pick in 2018, the debonair Steele Walker spent most of the season in High-A. He hit for some average, reached base a fair amount and provided some pop -- in other words, he pitched in a little bit of everything. That's his way forward, as he's a portfolio player who lacks a true carrying tool. He has a fair chance at being a starter when all is said and done.