Done deal: Mazara is Chicago White Sox's new right fielder
It's official -- the White Sox have a new right fielder.
Late Tuesday night, news broke of the Sox acquiring right fielder Nomar Mazara in trade from the Rangers.
The Sox confirmed the news early Wednesday morning, landing Mazara from Texas for minor-leage outfielder Steele Walker.
The 24-year-old Mazara hit .268/.318/.469 with 19 home runs and 66 RBI in 116 games with the Rangers last season. He was slowed in August and September by a left-oblique injury.
Not only have the White Sox been shopping for a right fielder, they've been looking for left-handed hitters.
They signed all-star catcher Yasmani Grandal, a switch hitter, in November, and Mazara adds more potential pop from the left side.
"At just 24 years old, Nomar provides us with a left-handed hitting right fielder who fits into our current team's development arc and who still has untapped potential," Sox general manager Rick Hahn said in a statement. "Nomar adds yet another young, exciting bat with upside to our lineup."
The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Mazara hit .288 with 13 home runs, 46 RBI and an .844 OPS against right-handed pitching last season. Over his four-year career, Mazara is a .271 hitter against righties with 64 homers, 240 RBI and a .799 OPS.
Last season, Mazara's average home run distance of 416 feet was the ninth highest in the major leagues. His 505-foot homer off White Sox starter Reynaldo Lopez during a June 21 game at Texas was the longest in baseball.
Considered a future star when he broke into the Rangers' starting lineup in 2016, Mazara is still trying to reach his full potential. His best year was 2017, a .253/.323/.422 slash line with 20 home runs and 101 RBI.
Mazara also needs to improve against left-handed pitching if he wants to avoid being a platoon player with the Sox. Last season, he had a dismal slash line -- .220/.252/.394 -- against lefties.
"The player that he has been over the last couple years has had some issues with lefties," Hahn told reporters at the winter meetings Wednesday in San Diego. "So the question is, will those continue? Can we get him better against left-handed pitching? How much was the thumb injury or the oblique that he fought with over the last couple years factoring into those issues?
"And make an assessment whether we need to complement him. If we need to complement him, that's just fine. That's a valuable bat against right-handed pitching. Let's see how the rest of the roster comes together before fully assessing how we addressed right field."
When he was 16, Mazara joined the Rangers from his native Dominican Republic. His $4.95 million signing bonus was a record at the time for international players.
"We wish Nomar the best with the White Sox," Texas general manager Jon Daniels told reporters. "It is a little bittersweet having known him as long as we have."
Drafted on the second round in 2018 following a standout collegiate career at Oklahoma, the 23-year-old Walker split last season between low Class A Kannapolis and high A Winston-Salem.
The 5-foot-11, 190-pounder batted a combined .284/.361/.451 with 10 home runs and 62 RBI in 120 games. According to Baseball America, Walker was ranked No. 8 among the Sox's top prospects.
"We're excited to welcome Steele Walker to the organization," Daniels said. "He is a really good hitter, with both power and an advanced approach, and has an aggressive, winning on-field makeup."