According to Ken Rosenthal, the Texas Rangers are close to locking up Elvis Andrus with an eight-year, $120 million deal. Now, it's April 1, and I'm just about to go live with my hilarious Lincecum-for-Jeter post, so be wary of anything you read today. But let's assume it's an actual deal that happens soon. The Rangers have the best prospect in baseball, Jurickson Profar, and he happens to play the same position as Andrus. What are the Rangers going to do?
Good, I'm the first writer to wonder what the Rangers will do with Andrus and Profar. So let's explore the idea. Some of the different possibilities:
Move Ian Kinsler to first base
It's hard to be more indifferent about this scenario. Throughout his career, Ian Kinsler has averaged about four wins over replacement per season. Which is excellent. But that's as a second baseman. His 111 career OPS+ isn't that good. It's good-for-a-second-baseman good, but when you compare him to other first basemen, he's more of a Doug Mientkiewicz kind of hitter. Would you want to pay someone like that $65 million over the next five years? Probably not.
But Kinsler would probably be a better hitter than Mitch Moreland, or if some kind of quasi-platoon was set up with Kinsler, Moreland, and Lance Berkman, maybe the Rangers could leverage Kinsler's lefty-punishing skills more. Dunno, it could work. And assuming Profar's defense is superlative at second, the Rangers could have an amazing keystone combo for the next decade.
Move Kinsler to the outfield
Eh. I get that the Rangers have Nelson Cruz clomping around out there, so it's not like there's a high bar to clear, but what reason would the Rangers have for thinking that this kind of move should work? It seems like it would work okay. That's the argument. Before the Rangers made a decision like this, they would get to watch Kinsler play in the outfield in non-game situations, so they would know best. Still, it would seem a shame to take a good defensive second baseman and move him to the outfield before his skills eroded.
Kinsler signed a five-year extension less than a year ago, and talk of trading him might lead you to think that the contract was a whoopsie-doodle. Except I'd wager that if the Rangers were to trade Kinsler they a) wouldn't have to pay a dime of his contract, and b) would get some good prospects back in the deal. That's the sign of a pretty good contract, and considering that the best second baseman on the market this offseason was Marco Scutaro, there's a chance that Kinsler would have picked up something like a $90 million contract if he'd been on the market. Teams wouldn't exactly fight over Kinsler, but they would at least be passive-aggressive and bitchy about him.
Still, he's a good player, a net positive for a team trying to win now. A team like the Rangers trading him for prospects would seem counterintuitive.
TRADE JURICKSON PROFAR FOR GIANCARLO STANTON
You will read 538 different permutations of this theme over the next weeks, if not months. Your knee-jerk reaction will be to roll your eyes.
But hold on, it makes sense. If you were ordered by a mad owner to trade Profar, what would you want for him? Another young, cost-controllable potential superstar. And what do you think Stanton would hit in Arlington? I think a conservative estimate would be .270/.350/.900 with 83 home runs. If the Rangers would ever consider trading Profar, it would be for someone exactly like Stanton.
What did we learn from the Miguel Cabrera trade? When an under-25 superstar comes on the trade market, trade for him. Empty the farm. Dump out the coin purse. Do it. Stanton would qualify.
Of course, the Marlins have said they aren't shopping Stanton, but I have to tell you, I'm trusting them less and less these days.
TRADE PROFAR FOR OSCAR TAVERAS
The trade still makes sense, dammit. Even more so if Andrus is locked up.
Don't do a damned thing and wait for baseball to slap you upside the head with a fish or something
Bingo. And what I mean by baseball slapping you upside the head with a fish is that it's probably a good idea to expect something completely ridiculous. Profar slumps in Triple-A. Kinsler gets attacked by a lion like the guy in the blooper from The Naked Gun. Six ineffective starting pitchers force the Rangers to search for pitching help. Something like that. Anything like that.
Because the downside to holding on to Kinsler, Andrus, and Profar would be that the Rangers have too many good players.
Also, Profar is 20 years old. He just turned 20, in fact. He's younger than Bryce Harper and Dylan Bundy. He was not born when Nevermind came out. He wasn't even born when the crappy knockoffs of Nevermind came out. The Rangers don't have to make a decision on Profar for years. Years. So for this year, at the very least, they can let the 20-year-old play in a league where he's still the youngest player. This would allow them to play two very good players up the middle in 2013, when the team is looking to contend.
The Rangers have a lot of options. They also have a lot of good options. Funny how that works with a gaggle of talented middle infielders. Most importantly, they don't have to do anything right now. They can wait a year, maybe even more if Profar doesn't set the Pacific Coast League ablaze. Or they can make a huge, ridiculous trade to keep a bunch of Internet monkeys happy.
I mean, I know what I want. But sitting tight is probably the best thing the Rangers can do right now.
For more about Andrus and the Rangers, please visit SB Nation's Lone Star Ball.
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