April 16, 2013 by Matt Musico
Jurickson Profar has been chosen by many baseball analysts to be the breakout rookie in the American League this season. The middle infielder had a chance to make the Texas Rangers major league roster straight out of Spring Training; after posting a .216/.322/.275 line in 51 Cactus League at-bats, the organization felt it was best for the 20-year-old to get a little more seasoning in the minor leagues first. Now that Elvis Andrus has signed an extension to remain the starting shortstop in Arlington, how does that affect Profar’s future?
Although Andrus’s eight year/$120 million extension allows him to opt out after the 2018 season, this contract blocks Profar’s path to the major leagues, unless they’re able to move Ian Kinsler over to first base. On the other hand, there been chatter as to whether or not the Rangers would trade him and/or another highly-touted prospect in Mike Olt to get help for either their outfield or pitching staff. According to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com, they’d do so in a blink of any eye if the right opportunity came up.
Heading into this season, these are the two spots in the Rangers’ roster that is not as strong as it was last year. They went hard after free agent Zack Greinke before he signed a monster deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and lost Josh Hamilton to free agency. There are a few players that could become available at the trade deadline that could convince Texas to send their top prospects packing
To help the outfield, rumors have been flying around for a possible swap of top prospects between Texas and the St. Louis Cardinals. Mike Matheny‘s club is still looking for a long-term replacement for the injured Rafael Furcal. They could be willing to score Profar in a deal by giving up top outfield prospect, Oscar Taveras. While Taveras has jaw dropping ability, I wouldn’t trade my top minor leaguer with the most potential for another player who hasn’t proven their own ability, yet. If I’m in the Texas front office, Profar and Olt would only leave the organization for a major leaguer. That’s where David Price and Giancarlo Stanton come into the picture.
There’s no doubt the Tampa Bay Rays would love to hold onto Price for the long-term. However, with pitchers like Greinke, Felix Hernandez, and Justin Verlander getting record-setting contracts, it doesn’t seem like it’s a possibility. Price isn’t scheduled to hit free agency until 2016, but his yearly asking price will soon be out of Tampa’s price range. Price is making just over $10 million in 2013 following his first AL Cy Young Award.
This could be a potential match because the Rays don’t have a long-term solution at shortstop, unless you truly think Yunel Escobar is the answer. Gaining a middle infielder under team control for the rest of the decade is an attractive commodity. If traded to Tampa, Profar could be a cornerstone of their future with power-hitting outfielder Wil Myers.
On the other hand, there is another team in Florida that may be willing to trade valuable pieces off their roster. Although the front office won’t admit it, the Miami Marlins went through their usual salary dump this past off-season. It leaves Giancarlo Stanton as the only player left with any value. Miami says they’re not interested in dealing their outfielder, but that doesn’t mean anything. This is the same organization that told Jose Reyes to buy a house in south Florida, then traded him to the Toronto Blue Jays less than a week later.
Unless the asking price drops, which I doubt, it will take two top prospects from interested suitors to score a prolific power bat like Stanton. Would it make sense for the Rangers to trade away both Profar and Olt, what at one time was projected to be the left side of their infield for years to come? Like I said earlier, Andrus is locked up until at least 2018, while Adrian Beltre is under contract until 2016, also blocking Olt from getting to the majors at his natural position.
As I said in a recent article for Yahoo! Sports, Giancarlo Stanton is a once-in-a-generation power hitter, and if a team has the prospects to give up to get him, they should do so. For the Rangers, could you imagine what Stanton could do by playing half his games in Arlington? With protection ample around him, 50 home runs a year could be a realistic number. After hitting 37 home runs in 123 games played last year while spending half his time in a spacious Marlins Park, the sky is the limit for his potential.
So, while the Rangers couldn’t go wrong with acquiring either Price or Stanton, it’s more worth it for Texas to bring Stanton to the Lone Star state, if possible. Both Profar and Olt have their paths blocked to the majors, and Stanton can provide elite power in the outfield to make up for the absence of Josh Hamilton. Trading for him would allow David Murphy to become the fourth outfielder again, and Nelson Cruz could shift back over to left field.
If they’re going to give up prospects that can play everyday, it makes sense for an organization to get a proven major leaguer who can also be penciled into the lineup everyday, not a pitcher that will only play once every five days.
Do you think Texas should trade Profar and/or Olt? Do any of the above deals make sense, or is there something else that you think is more attractive?
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