Rays Send Nate Lowe To Rangers In Exchange For Heriberto Hernandez, 2 Others
As the doors were closing on what would have been the last day of the Winter Meetings and with the Rule 5 Draft concluded, the Rangers and Rays closed a six-player trade that gave Texas options in both the major and minor leagues and at a position of need and sent three young, intriguing prospects to an already-stacked Tampa Bay system.
The biggest name in the deal was Nate Lowe, a former Top 100 prospect who'd seen his playing time diminish in Tampa Bay with Ji-Man Choi's emergence. He'll head to a Rangers team with Ronald Guzman as the only true first base option on the 40-man roster.
In return, Tampa Bay got Osleivis Basabe, Heriberto Hernandez and Alexander Ovalles. The trio is far away but gives even more depth to the Rays' collection of minor leaguers.
Nate Lowe, 1B
With Ji-Man Choi seemingly entrenched at first base, Lowe became expendable. The former Top 100 prospect has not shown particularly loud offensive tools during parts of two seasons in the big leagues, whereas Choi had a decent 2019 season and several shining moments during the Rays' run to the AL pennant during the 2020 season.
The Rangers are also thin at first base, with Ronald Guzman and Sherten Apostel their two biggest options currently on the 40-man roster, and Apostel hadn't any time above high Class A before making his big league debut in a bizarre 2020 season stunted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Jake Guenther, 1B
Guenther was the Rays' seventh-rounder in 2019, out of Texas Christian. He hit well in his first pro season, albeit as an older player in the Rookie-level Appalachian League. Scouts see him as an intriguing prospect who can hit even though the power hasn't shown up quite yet. They do see him finding more power as he gets older and further develops his body. He has a chance as an MLB regular if he makes those gains.
Osleivis Basabe, 2B
Basabe ranked as the No. 46 prospect in the 2017 international class and had worked his way into the middle of the Rangers' system after two seasons as a pro, plus 2020 instructional league. He produced some of the biggest exit velocities at instructs and spent time during the shutdown working to add strength to his body since he could not travel back to his native Venezuela.
His relatively flat bat path does not portend particularly big home run power, but the strength is there produce it with swing corrections. He's improved his footwork at shortstop, but is athletic enough to play center field and has an above-average arm.
Heriberto Hernandez, 1B/OF
Hernandez signed out of the Dominican Republic for just $10,000 in 2017, then produced well at the lowest levels of the system over his first two years before the 2020 season was wiped out by the coronavirus pandemic. Because of limited access to workout facilities in the Dominican Republic during the shutdown, Hernandez showed up with less strength than in previous years. If he can regain that strength and the corresponding power—and sharpen his pitch-recognition skills as well—he could have an interesting future.
Alexander Ovalles, OF
The Rangers laud Ovalles for his instincts and baseball IQ for a young player and see someone who can play all three outfield positions and possibly first base. He's a slightly above-average runner who brings high energy to the field with a good two-strike approach and enough potential for hittability and power to fit nearly anywhere in the lineup.