March 15, 2013
On the Block, or On the Clock?
Four months ago, and two-and-a-half months before the Braves acquired Justin Upton from the Diamondbacks, the Rangers were considered the favorites to land the right fielder. Unfortunately for Texas, Kevin Towers’ insistence on obtaining a young shortstop became an impasse in his negotiations with Jon Daniels, who had two at his disposal, but did not view either of them as expendable. The Rangers would not part with Elvis Andrus or Jurickson Profar, and the Diamondbacks would not send Upton to Arlington without one of them coming back.
But in the backdrop of those talks, it appears the Rangers were quietly shaping their plans to resolve the enviable shortstop logjam, looking one winter ahead instead of focusing on the present. As CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman wrote on Thursday, the most likely scenario has Andrus on the trade block next offseason and Profar being groomed in the meantime to fill his shoes.
Clock might be ticking on Andrus’ time in Texas
Although it is unclear whether the Rangers’ attempts to extend Andrus beyond the 2014 season have been aggressive offers or due diligence, the lack of progress should not come as a surprise in either case. Given Boras’ hard-bargain philosophy, Andrus’ youth, and the fact that he is currently playing on a below-market deal, the temptation to test the waters two winters from now is considerable. Andrus is set to not only enter free agency before his age-27 campaign, a rarity in and of itself, but also to do so as a two-way-impact shortstop—a type of player that is seldom available for bidding. The demand would be high, and the supply would be extremely low, making a nine-figure deal a distinct possibility.
In some ways, the status of Daniels’ negotiations with Boras could also inform the organization’s plan for Profar, who could either serve as the major-league utility infielder or be the everyday shortstop at Triple-A Round Rock. MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan reported last week that the Rangers were looking for a “utility infielder who can play shortstop,” a role for which Profar could be a fit, but one in which his playing time would be limited unless an injury strikes one of the team’s regulars.
That Daniels is working the phones for an alternative to the 20-year-old suggests that the prevailing viewpoint in Arlington is that Profar should head to Triple-A, so that he can build on a .281/.368/.452 effort for Double-A Frisco last year and prepare for an everyday job in 2014. By extension (no pun intended), it could also mean that the Rangers are growing pessimistic about their chances to retain Andrus, leading Daniels to set the stage for what is sure to be a hot trade market next winter.