What should Jon Daniels and the Texas Rangers do with the middle infield? As has been the conversation in Texas for a calendar year, we wonder how three quality middle infielders will fit into two middle infield spots. Jon Daniels has been reported as willing to trade a middle infielder which he has been proven unwilling to do in the past. There has been much speculation about trading Jurickson Profar for a top of the rotation pitcher or middle of the order bat. There has also been conversation about trading away Ian Kinsler and his large contract. There has even been some discussion of dealing Elvis Andrus less than a year after his monster contact extension.
Many people think that the most likely outcome is that none of the middle infielders get dealt and that Daniels moves Kinsler to another position, like he did Michael Young several times. This give Profar a chance to play secondbase.
I do not believe that a Kinsler trade is likely. It is hard to move contracts like Kinsler’s. He is owed significant money as he leaves his prime. It is a rare deal that sees bad contract swaps for players the caliber of Kinsler. I have, however, seen two very interesting proposals. One, by way of our sister site the Motor City Bengals, intrigues me. MCB suggests that the Tigers solve their secondbase problem via a Prince Fielder for Ian Kinsler deal. This would relieve the Tigers of considerable cap burden while supplying them a secondbaseman moving forward. The Rangers would get a huge upgrade at first and clear their middle infield log jam. Fielder is the superior player but he also has the larger contract. For the Rangers to take on this much they would need ownership approval which I am not sure they would get. It is possible that to make the deal work the Tigers would take some of Fielder’s contract but I do not think they would take enough to make the deal possible without ownership approval. This trade is pipe dream most likely but an interesting pipe dream none the less.
The other intriguing trade proposal is Kinsler for Andre Either straight up. Either has a deal similar to Kinsler’s and the Dodgers have not had success finding a quality secondbaseman. They have signed Alexander Guerrero to play second but it is unclear if he is ready for the bigs. I find this deal more probable than the Fielder deal. Either would solve the left field issues for Texas. This deal probably does not happen if Texas brings back Nelson Cruz but if Cruz goes to free agency this trade will gain traction quickly.
As readers of this site know, I am both a numbers guy and a fierce Rangers fan so the Kinsler issue is a difficult one. The numbrs point to Kinsler being an average offensive player and not far above average defender but without a doubt he is one of my favorite players to watch. Some of my favorite Texas Ranger memories have been produced by Ian Kinsler but it seems that Kinsler is the weak link in the Rangers middle infield and is the most likely piece to be moved. I do not want him to be traded, but I pull for the name on the front of the jersey more than one on the back so it may be time to deal Kinsler.
Another option is trade away Jurickson Profar. Profar has seen moderate success in the majors so I do not think his trade value is overly diminished by being called up and a trade centered around him could possibly land the biggest names on the theoretical trade market. Any deal including David Price, Giancarlo Stanton, Carlos Gonzalez etc would have to feature Profar as the main piece. This is exciting because it means Profar could be used to acquire a top level player that would make a huge splash in Texas. Daniels is known to be quite attached to his prospects so a deal involving Profar would have to bring exactly the kind of player that Daniels wants. Again, this kind of deal is rare and hard to pull off. The David Price deal seems like the only obvious trade but one can never be sure about Jon Daniels. Daniels believes that Profar is a star caliber player so trading away Profar would require a star caliber player in return.
The third trade option is Elvis Andrus. I think a trade involving Andrus is almost impossible. I cannot see Daniels effectively selling low on Andrus. Andrus’s 2013 numbers are somewhat deflated by his slow start. The Rangers are unlikely to get a favorable deal by trading a weak hitting, big contract player and, like it or not, that is all that Andrus is right now. If Texas trades Andrus for someone like Price I will view it as a coup.
Instead of a trade Jon Daniels could keep all three players and move Kinsler to either firstbase or leftfield, depending on which position gets filled and which one does not. However, I believe the most likely option is for Jon Daniels to keep all three players and to leave Kinsler at second. This means Profar is once again left on the bench and spends time as a designated hitter when not filling in for the Adrian Beltre, Andrus and Kinsler.
I belive this is the most likely scenario because trading Andrus or Kinsler is unlikely and Daniels will only trade Profar if he gets exactly what he wants. I do not think these types of players are available in this market. Once trades have been eliminated as a possibility the only thing left to deal with is what to do with Kinsler. Instead of moving Kinsler to first I believe Texas will be patient with Profar. Daniels and his system have shown that they are willing to be patient with young players. Instead of moving Kinsler and playing Profar at second they may well let Kinsler keep second and wait to see how Profar develops. While Profar did not get blown away last year, he was frequently overwhelmed. Jurickson has yet force Texas’s hand in playing him and until he does he is destined to ride the bench.