Yesterday Jon Daniels threw a wet blanket over the fire to quiet — but not completely extinguish — speculation of Jurickson Profar playing some outfield this Spring, so it got me thinking I should dedicate some words to the Mike Olt quagmire, as well as the Jurickson Profar conundrum.
My personal feeling is the Rangers will tuck both of them away at Triple-A Round Rock to begin the year, to maintain six years of team control on either player. That just seems (to me) to be the most reasonable conclusion to jump to. If my supposition proves true, then at the least we should see Profar and Olt on the Major League club by June, because let’s face it, wins will be at a premium in 2013, and they are two of the best 25 players we could insert in the field.
But, for kicks, let’s look at what each player could (theoretically) provide if on the Opening Day roster:
As we know, Mike Olt is a 3rd baseman. As we also know, Mike Olt is 2nd on the depth chart behind arguably the best 3rd baseman in baseball, Adrian Beltre. This is not good for Mike Olt. Trade Mike Olt for everyone. (But not really though.)
His primary value in the field is at 3rd base. That’s where he offers the most defensive value, as well as offense, because the fact is that most 1st basemen and many corner outfielders will probably be putting up bigger triple slash lines in 2013. Although he will be working out in the OF this spring, unless Nelson Cruz comes out of this whole PED ordeal with a 50-game suspension, Olt should be considered as nothing more than an emergency RF option.
The last route the Rangers could go down would be to begin the year with Mike Olt platooning at 1st base with Mitch Moreland. It’s beneficial from an offensive standpoint because Mitch Moreland can’t hit lefties, and it would be an effective way to limit Mike Olt’s exposure. It’s a lot like bringing up a starting pitcher from the minors to fill a low-leverage bullpen role as a way to become acclimated to big league hitting.
Conflate that with 1B being the least demanding position defensively, and this move would seem like a slam dunk. Like everything else in relation to Olt, I don’t believe the front office would put him in a platoon role on the Major League club, unless they feel comfortable that his potential contributions will outweigh the experience he could gain by playing everyday in AAA.
All offseason I pounded on my keyboard to the beat of a dead horse, saying Jurickson Profar should be our everyday SS in 2013, and that Elvis Andrus should be traded. I’m beginning to come around to the realization that Justin Upton is not on our team, and that Andrus still is. I guess we can move on.
Jurickson Profar is the top prospect in baseball. He could probably start at shortstop for 22-25 teams (or more) in baseball. Texas is not one of those places. Prior to Jon Daniels speaking yesterday, there was a general feeling among Ranger fans that the team might tryout Profar in center field — or right field — especially amid speculation of Nelson Cruz’s cryptic future. That is now not the case, and for good reason. Every day Profar is taken away from SS slows his overall maturation at the position, a position that figures to be his for the next decade to come.
Another theory (before Ian Kinsler nixed the idea) was to start Kinsler at 1B, bring up Profar to play 2B, and PROFIT, in that order. Again, we’re sort of dealing with the same concept as before: if we play Profar full-time at 2nd, we’d be reprogramming his wires, displacing him in a different direction.
The fact is that shortstop is his best position, because it’s where he offers the Rangers the most value. Offensively and defensively, Ian Kinsler is a better 2nd baseman than Jurickson Profar. At shortstop, even in his prime Profar probably won’t perform as well as Elvis Andrus has already proven in 4 youthful years. But offensively, I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if Profar outhit Andrus next year. I’d personally rather pay about $1 million for Profar over the next two years than Andrus at around $11.5 million. Maybe that’s just me.