The Rangers have come along way in their franchise history. 2012 started as a season of hope and ended in a mangled web of confusion and frustration. Now that the dust has settled, there are 3 players I believe will be up for consideration for trade given what the club will have to replace via free agency this off season. I appreciate and like all 3 players, but there are in house solutions to utilize if possible to compensate for each player’s departure.
In no particular order of importance or probability:
Nelson Cruz (.260/.319/.460): I always will be thankful for what Cruz did in 2011 against the Tigers. I will never forget Game 6 of the World Series either, but I don’t place the blame solely on him. I do, however, have trouble justifying his existence on this team. I don’t think the front office trusts him in the long run, hence him being covered by contract through the end of 2013. His hitting is streaky, he doesn’t stay on a roll long enough to nurture a hitting groove and his fielding is spotty. I find myself wondering if he can catch anything not directly hit right to him. I also don’t like his inherent hamstring issues. If he is not retained, I believe one available solution to look at is Mike Olt. In his handful of starts in RF, he showed improvement in his fielding and if he can keep growing his fielding as a member of the Licey Tigres, he would be a solid option. His bat just needs the consistency afforded to teammate David Murphy in order to get him accustomed to big league pitching and game scenarios. Speaking of the Tigres, Olt’s teammate Leonys Martin could be a huge factor in the outfield proceedings as well. He tore up AAA last season, especially after being optioned back to Round Rock in August. If he does well in Winter Ball, he may get a look to replace either Cruz or Hamilton.
Elvis Andrus (.286/.349/.378): It’s no secret that the Arizona Diamondbacks want Elvis Andrus. The New York Yankees look to be suitors as well with the eventual departure of Derek Jeter. There is certainly a market for Andrus and, for the right deal, it would make sense to get maximum value now versus waiting on contract talks and other distractions down the road. I love having Andrus on the team, though. I love his approach to the game and the intensity he brings with him. As we all know, the solution for an Andrus departure is Jurickson Profar. I also like his approach and his attitude towards baseball. If Andrus stays and Profar is his second baseman, I believe the middle infield will have a much needed youth infusion that will bring energy to the lineup. Wait… does that mean that… no, that’s crazy…
Ian Kinsler (.256/.326/.423): Yes. I am well aware that he is contracted through 2016, with potential for 2017 and there isn’t a definitive option at second base waiting in the minors… except, well, Profar. That being said, I am noticing utility middle infielder Leury Garcia is having himself a time with the Cibao Gigantes. He’s started in only 4 games, but he’s sporting a slash of .556/.579/.833 so far. Garcia could take over for a Kinsler who did drop off in several ways this year. Kinsler’s batting average in 2012 hit a low, his road record devolved into atrocious territory and he was no help in the closing month of the season. His attention to fielding detail also left a lot to be desired and his base running was horrible. There’s also no reason to even mess with the idea of moving him to the outfield. With Profar and/or Garcia simply waiting for a space to open up, there may be a movement to clear that space and I feel Kinsler will be the one.
*Sidenote about Kinsler: He may be asked to embrace the role the club was hoping Michael Young would take on. I can see him mostly at DH and spelling at second base a couple of times a week.