Texas Rangers outfielder Willie Calhoun, a once highly regarded prospect, has asked to be traded after being demoted to the minors.
Calhoun publicly acknowledged his trade request Sunday in an interview with The Athletic, saying « I don’t know if I’ll play another game in a Rangers uniform, and I let them know that. »
Calhoun was optioned to Triple-A Round Rock after Sunday’s victory over the Atlanta Braves as part of the Rangers’ effort to trim their roster to 26 players.
Rangers general manager Chris Young told The Athletic that the organization is « looking to get Willie going, » but Calhoun said he sees the demotion as an opportunity to « put myself in a position to get traded. I do want to be traded. »
After battling injuries earlier in his career, Calhoun has struggled to secure a consistent role with the Rangers over the last two seasons. He batted .250 with six home runs in 260 at-bats in 2021 and has gotten off to a slow start this season as well, batting just .136 (6-for-44) with one homer in 18 games.
« I know I can be a .300 hitter, » Calhoun told The Athletic. « It’s gonna be in a different uniform, for sure. … I don’t know if I’ll play another game in a Rangers uniform, and I let them know that. »
Calhoun, 27, was the centerpiece prospect whom the Rangers acquired in their 2017 blockbuster trade that sent Yu Darvish to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Widely regarded as a top-50 overall prospect, Calhoun batted .300 with 31 homers in the minors in 2017 and showed signs of promise with the Rangers in 2019 — his best season in the majors — when he hit .269 with 21 homers in just 83 games.
But injuries, Texas’ crowded outfield and Calhoun’s offensive struggles all have contributed to his lack of consistent playing time since the start of the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.
« I’ve been wanting out for the last year, year and a half, » he told The Athletic. « I feel like I need a change of scenery. »
Calhoun also mentioned his disagreement with the « hitting philosophies » of the Rangers’ staff, identifying himself as a line-drive hitter who « can’t hit popup home runs. I don’t have that leverage. »
Rangers manager Chris Woodward told The Athletic that he thinks Calhoun’s swing recently has « gone a little bit backwards » and that the team has « asked him to work a little bit more vertical with his swing, » but also noted that he does not see the demotion as a « long-term solution. »
« This is what we feel is best for Willie, and for the team. … But Willie needs to make, I wouldn’t say a significant change, » Woodward said. « But he’s got to have a little bit more understanding of how that sort of works best for him. Hopefully, he’ll take the plan we have for him, go down, and he’ll get consistent at-bats. »