“I have said that Texas is a state of mind, but I think it is more than that. It is a mystique closely approximating a religion. And this is true to the extent that people either passionately love Texas or passionately hate it and, as in other religions, few people dare to inspect it for fear of losing their bearings in mystery or paradox.”
― John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America
While I am not a fan of the Texas Rangers, the end of the Cubs’ drought makes me root (just a little) for the Rangers to do the same someday. After 11 years as the Washington Senators, the Texas Rangers debuted in 1972 and have not won the World Series. Since the Rangers are looking like a World Series contender in 2017, they need to capitalize on that window of opportunity while it exists. One player that could be a part of their success is Jurickson Profar, either as a super-utility player or the bounty to be paid for someone else who will help them achieve World Series success.It feels like Jurickson Profar has been a top prospect for many years. In fact, he has been highly regarded since signing as a teenager in 2009 out of Curacao. Despite being around for a while, he is still just 23 years old.
A key part of keeping that window open is the presence of future hall-of-famer Adrian Beltre, but he is set to celebrate his 38th birthday this season, so his opportunity to win may expire soon. Nomar Mazara looks like a great offensive player who may eventually replace Beltre as the Ranger’s key offensive player. Jonathan Lucroy, Elvis Andrus, and Rougned Odor all experienced varying degrees of success in 2016. Delino DeShields, Shin-Soo Choo and Josh Hamilton each create their own question marks for Texas and the retirement of Prince Fielder and the potential losses of Mitch Moreland and Ian Desmond are looming.
Texas has already added Andrew Cashner to a rotation that features Cole Hamels, Yu Darvish, and Martin Perez. The bullpen features some high quality performers, even if none of them are household names. So what should the Rangers do with Profar? They could retain him and use him they way Ben Zobrist, Javier Baez, Sean Rodriguez, and Josh Harrison have been used in their careers, which may be the best option. However, he is still highly regarded as a prospect and is best suited to play shortstop or second base, which are occupied in Texas. Profar would be attractive to many teams in the league as he is a young, cost-controlled, switch-hitting, versatile player who has shown nice plate discipline with the potential for developing power and stealing bases.
Here are some potential trading partners (listed alphabetically) for Texas based on an opening in the middle infield and pieces that the Rangers could find useful in their pursuit of their first World Series title.
*Angels: Second base remains open, but do the Angels have anyone that Texas would want? C.J. Cron, Garrett Richards, Matt Shoemaker, Tyler Skaggs, and Cam Bedrosian could each provide some value to Texas.
*Athletics: Oakland is always willing to deal and could match up on a Sonny Gray deal since second base is occupied by Joey Wendle, perhaps Jed Lowrie could be included to provide some utility value.
*Brewers: While they do have a collection of middle infielders already, a move for Profar may work if Texas had interest in Ryan Braun. They already have matched up in trades before, including the Jonathan Lucroy deal this past summer. Joey Gallo could also make his way into such a deal.
*Dodgers: Second and Third are open for the moment, but Yasiel Puig may be the only viable player to offer. Does Texas want to add Puig and risk disrupting team chemistry?
*Padres: Ryan Schimpf and Luis Sardinas are the current double-play tandem in San Diego, so Profar could be viewed as a solid option. Would a healthy Tyson Ross round out the Texas rotation? Yes, but his health is uncertain.
Which team matches up the best with Texas? San Diego is the only team that could offer Profar a shot at being an everyday shortstop. A healthy Tyson Ross could make a deal work, but Texas would likely balk at such deal until they knew his thoracic outlet syndrome was no longer an issue. The Angels likely need another year to retool as they wait for Andrew Heaney and Nick Tropeano to return from surgery, so the time may be right for a Profar deal. The Dodgers don’t necessarily have the right pieces to offer Texas. The Brewers and Athletics will always be hanging around if a young player like Profar is available.
The best option is probably for Texas to hold on to Profar and use him all over the diamond and at DH. As the season progresses, we will likely see his name come up again in trade chatter. For now, the Rangers have a nice fallback option at multiple positions.