The muddled outfield picture for the Texas Rangers took another turn Tuesday when Texas traded outfielder Craig Gentry and right-hander Josh Lindblom to division rival Oakland for outfielder Michael Choice and minor-league infielder Chris Bostick.
Choice, 24, is a former first-round pick of Oakland and played his high school ball at Mansfield Timberview and collegiately at Texas-Arlington.
Now Choice, who still lives in south Arlington, gets a chance to win an outfield spot with his hometown team.
“It’s definitely a surprise,” said Choice, who was running errands when he found out about the deal. “It’s a great feeling. I’ve always dreamed about playing at home.”
How much Choice gets to play in Arlington may be up to him. Texas has on its roster what general manager Jon Daniels called two everyday outfielders in Leonys Martin (center) and Alex Rios (right). Left field is wide open and Choice figures to be in the mix, although plenty can change between now and Opening Day.
“If today was March 31 and we were playing the Phillies, we’re comfortable we can put together a quality outfield with the group we’ve got,” Daniels said. “That said, it’s not. We’ve got time to see who else is out there. We’re going to make use of that time.”
Choice is now vying for time with Engel Beltre, Jim Adduci and possibly Mitch Moreland. None of other three have the pedigree that Choice does.
Oakland picked him 10th overall in the 2010 draft and he was the organization’s No. 2 prospect entering the 2013 season according to Baseball America. Choice made his big-league debut in September and went 5 for 18 in three starts. His first major-league hit came Sept. 3 against Texas left-hander Martin Perez.
Daniels said the club has thought highly of Choice since his playing days in the Metroplex.
“When you look at our club and our organization, we put a priority on run production this winter,” Daniels said. “We think Michael is a guy who fits that profile. He has the ability to play all three outfield spots. He’s hit everywhere he’s been, lefties and righties, and drives a baseball. Look at our system. There are a lot of young players who profile as run producers but they’re younger. There’s not a lot of guys at the upper levels who fit that need.”
In addition to Choice, who goes on the major-league roster, the Rangers picked up infielder Chris Bostick. Bostick hit .282 in Class A last year and has been assigned to Class A Myrtle Beach.
Gentry hit .280 for Texas this season with two homers and 22 RBI in 102 games. The fan favorite also had 24 stolen bases and was the team’s player of the month for September. He was a 10th-round pick in the 2006 draft and made his Texas debut in 2009. He’s a .280 hitter for his career.
Lindblom was acquired by the Rangers last offseason as part of the Michael Young trade with Philadelphia. He’s struggled to find a role with the Rangers and made just eight appearances, going 1-3 with a 5.46 ERA.
While the move involves the club that’s stood between Texas and the American League West title the last two seasons, Daniels had no problem making a move inside the division.
“Oakland wouldn’t be doing it if Craig and Josh didn’t fit,” Daniels said. “We’re getting better. They wouldn’t be doing it if they weren’t getting better as well. We’re trying to make deals that are good for us and trust our baseball people to make those calls.”