The Texas Rangers have been producing some of the most sought after amateur talent in baseball since Jon Daniels took over as GM. Not only have they been producing a lot of talent, but often their prospects are the product of their player development being world class. The athletes they recruit and sign have been producing top-tier talent, commodities that are extremely valuable and continue to gain value as front offices value and hold onto their high ceiling youngsters. The kind of talent that they give up impact difference makers at the MLB level for.
Rangers SS Jurickson Profar is the definition of that philosophy and has been turning heads in the minors. At the ripe age of 18, Profar has been playing at an advanced level against elder professionals. Profar has it all; very solid defensive ability with a gun for an arm (he was originally scouted as a pitcher) and patience at the plate. He’s a physical specimen, and likely won’t get too big to where he’ll have to be moved off of the position. Last year while playing for Hickory in the Sallie League, Profar walked (65 BB) more times than he struck out (63 K), and posted a .207ISO, showing that he has some pop in his bat as well. Speed, patience and plus defense are the makings of an All-Star caliber player for many years to come once he reaches the big leagues.
With such a great commodity in Profar, Texas must make a decision very soon. They just locked up Elvis Andrus for the next three years, buying out all of his arbitration years but none of his free agent years, opening the possibility for Andrus to hit the free agent market at the age of 26. You guessed it, he’s represented by Scott Boras. A player of Andrus’ talents will not agree to a long-term deal with Texas unless they pay over market value, and even then Boras may decide to bring his client to the market anyhow to drive the price up even more. Although the free agency isn’t the party it used to be, the premium talent are still receiving the premium that they often command, being promoted as “difference makers”. That’s exactly what Andrus is too, he’s one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball and is more than adequate at the plate and on the basepaths.
The simple solution would be to hope Profar is ready by 2013, but I doubt he will be a finished product by then. Ian Kinsler has a $10MM team option in 2013 with a $500k buyout. If Texas chooses to pick up the option on Kinsler and keep him until 2014, Profar would likely be ready and could slide to 2B but that’s not where his value is. Also, at that point Andrus would be approaching his free agency year in 2015. So Texas needs to make a decision, and a very important one in the very near future. Obviously both Profar and Andrus have tons of value on the market and any team would love to have them, but considering the price Andrus will command, does Texas look to move him now while he still has value and cost certainty, or do they hold onto him and pony up when teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers and Cubs may be in the market for his services? Do they consciously make the decision to let Andrus walk in 2015, and look to lock up Kinsler now? He’ll be entering his age 32 season in 2014.
Between their depth at SS, and their deep pitching staff Texas is dealing from a position of strength all due in part to their scouting and development. It’s a wonderful position to be in, and we can sit back and enjoy the quality level of competition they provide both now and in the future.
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