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Rangers acquire Nate Lowe from Rays in six-player deal

Lowe, who has struggled to get consistent at-bats in Tampa, should get a bigger opportunity in Texas.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Mary Holt-USA TODAY Sports

The Rangers and Rays struck a big deal as the virtual Winter Meetings came to a close on Thursday, with each side swapping three players in a deal that most notably sent first baseman Nate Lowe to Texas:

Lowe, 25, was a highly regarded prospect in the Rays organization but struggled to earn consistent playing time at first base with players like Ji-Man Choi and Yandy Díaz ahead of him on the depth chart. He posted a .251/.322/.447 slash line with 11 homers in 245 major-league plate appearances in 2019-20.

Ronald Guzman hasn’t provided much production at first base for the Rangers over the past three seasons and had been bumped off the major-league roster, with Todd Frazier, Derek Dietrich, and Danny Santana splitting the starts at the position until Frazier was dealt and Guzman was recalled at the end of August. Lowe shouldn’t have a hard time supplanting Guzman at the position, though Texas may still consider 21-year-old Sherten Apostel their first baseman of the future.

Texas paid a rather hefty price to acquire Lowe, dealing two Top 30 prospects. The 20-year-old Basabe, ranked as the No. 20 prospect in Texas’ system by MLB Pipeline, is a natural shortstop with experience at all four infield positions. He’s displayed elite contact skills over the first two seasons of his professional career, posting a combined .334/.386/.439 slash line with 19 stolen bases in 89 games split between the DSL, AZL, and the Northwest League’s Spokane Indians.

The 20-year-old Hernandez, the No. 24 prospect in the Rangers’ system as ranked by MLB Pipeline, showed the same stellar contact skills as Basabe but also flashed significantly more pop, hitting .345/.436/.635 with 23 homers in 113 games over two seasons split between the DSL, AZL, and Spokane. He’s played 25 games at catcher, 39 at first base, and 19 in right field, with his mediocre receiving skills leading some to believe that he’ll end up at a position other than catcher as he moves up the minor-league ladder.

Ovalles, 20, was originally signed by the Cubs as an international free agent but was dealt to Texas as a player to be named later in the trade that sent Cole Hamels to Chicago. In two seasons split between the DSL, AZL, and Spokane, Ovalles has hit .299/.376/.456. While he was not ranked among Texas’ top 30 prospects by Pipeline, the outfielder/first baseman is still very young and has an intriguing skill set, and if any team can further develop that skill set, it’s probably the Rays.

Texas received one other prospect in the deal: Jake Guenther, a left-handed hitting first baseman selected in the seventh round of the 2019 draft out of TCU. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound hitter displayed impressive on-base skills while playing in 48 games with Princeton of the Appalachian League in 2019, hitting .320/.431/.423 with two homers, 26 strikeouts, and 23 walks.