Quick Hits: Rangers, Infield, Rays, Ozuna, Braves, Freeman (www.mlbtraderumors.com)

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Isiah Kiner-Falefa was so impressive in his Gold Glove winning season at the hot corner that the Rangers plan on bumping him further up the defensive hierarchy in 2021. He’ll be their starting shortstop, per Kennedi Landry of MLB.com, which means an open competition to fill his spot at third. Oddly enough, Elvis Andrus has the inside track on the job after spending the last 12 seasons as their regular shortstop. Yes, it has indeed been that long for the 32-year-old. But he’s going to have to fight to stay in the lineup. His long-time double play partner Rougned Odor may be represent his stiffest competition, as the organization prefers that youngsters like Josh Jung and Sherten Apostel spend more time in the minors, Landry notes.

  • Marcell Ozuna and Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos were all laughs today as they spoke to reporters, including the Athletic’s David O’Brien, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post, and Gabe Burns of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Though the two sides certainly took their time to come together on a new contract, the deal itself was actually finished over the course of a single day. The Rays had made an offer to Ozuna, but after one season in Atlanta – a year Ozuna described as the best year of his career – the slugging outfielder told his representation at CAA Sports that he wanted to hear from the Braves. The takeaway here is that clarity, communication, and a little pressure exerted from the outside go a long way to helping two sides come together.
  • The jolly atmosphere included a playful reference to the future negotiation of Freddie Freeman’s extension, tweets Janes. Anthopoulos certainly didn’t seem all that worried about potentially losing their franchise first baseman, who is a free agent after the 2021 season. For his part, Freeman doesn’t seem particularly likely to test his options elsewhere. The 31-year-old was handed the keys to the franchise from the legendary Chipper Jones, and there’s little reason to doubt his plans to stay behind the wheel in Atlanta. Coming off an MVP season and three consecutive NL East division titles, the partnership clearly works. As with Ozuna, the Braves and Freeman could be as much as a conversation away from keeping the California native on the East Coast, a sentiment the Athletic’s David O’Brien has shared for some time.

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