Could Aaron Rowand Be A CF Option For The Texas Rangers?

Per Craig Calcaterra, the Miami* Marlins have released centerfielder Aaron Rowand today. Rowand was hitting rather poorly in Spring Training, and that was enough for the fish to cast him aside.

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*Miami is still weird to write. Too much alliteration here.

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Rowand, if you remember, was a guy the Rangers expressed some interest in prior to his signing with the Giants in 2008. Back then, he was an overrated player due fielding highlights and perceived grittiness. Now he's a man without a job, and if Texas is still interested, that could be a good thing.

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Rowand has not been even an average hitter in a while, dropping down to a .270 weighted On Base Average a year ago, worth nearly 13 runs fewer than an average hitter would have likely put up in his spot. Forecasts peg him as improving, however, with ZiPS giving him a .288 performance in 2012, and CAIRO giving him .297.

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That could be a worthwhile platoon bat, as Rowand's career wOBA against lefties is 16 points higher. That's still not exactly good, but neither are the Rangers' centerfield options. That's not necessarily far behind what we aught to expect from Craig Gentry, who is not even healthy, and does not seem to be getting a lot of support from the organization right now. The combination of Rowand and Julio Borbon playing against their platoon strengths could be close to an average centerfielder combined at the plate.

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Rowand's defense has also seemingly remained valuable in his twilight years, averaging just over five runs saved in the field for every 150 games over the past four seasons (per Ultimate Zone Rating), and was better than that in his most recent effort. That's nothing to write home about, and certainly behind Gentry, but still a bonus.

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The Rangers have reportedly been looking for a right handed compliment to keep Josh Hamilton out of center, and to platoon with either Borbon or David Murphy, and Rowand might just be the (closest you'll find to) perfect fit for that. His signing would absolutely not be exciting, but you are not going to find exciting this late in the off-season, and he wouldn't cost a prospect to get. He fills a relative need, and he's a guy the team has looked at before.

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The question would be if he really has fallen off a cliff, and how much he would cost. Spring Training numbers aren't enough to be down on a potential improvement, but the Marlins may have had a better reason for cutting him. If the Rangers don't show any interest, they, too, probably have a good reason. Regardless of how far he's fallen, however, if the price is close go negligible, he might just be the exact 25th man Texas needs in the last week before the season begins.

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