Searching For A Reason
By Eric Reining
If you believe everything the media tells you, then apparently Jon Daniels and the Rangers Front Office is adamant keeping Ian Kinsler and Mitch Moreland on the right side of the infield, which, in turn, will likely relegate both Jurickson Profar and Mike Olt to AAA Round Rock to open the 2013 season. As much as I believed the signing of Lance Berkman would precipitate another deal, likely a trade, it actually assumes the opposite, which (a) I don’t understand, but (b) mainly because it doesn’t make sense.
Due to the numerous layers we have to peel through on the matter, maybe you’ll come to a different, rational conclusion.
Among them are:
(1) The Rangers want to preserve the arbitration clocks on their two biggest prospects.
Because Jurickson Profar was only up with the Major League club for 6 weeks last year, in which he only accumulated 19 official plate appearances, he did not exhaust his rookie eligibility. The same goes for Mike Olt, though he played in slightly more games (16) and partook in about double the plate appearances (40) than did Profar. In MLB, a year of service time is equal to 172 days (out of about 183), so if the Rangers elect to withhold their two prized assets for a couple weeks at the onset of the 2013 season, they will each remain under team control for 6 seasons. But this brings us to our second bullet point;
(2) The Rangers simply do not want to trade Elvis Andrus
Although it’s been a cost-effective offseason from the Rangers standpoint, its great failure will be holding onto Elvis Andrus when they could have traded him, and added a middle-of-the-order replacement bat for Josh Hamilton. Presumably Justin Upton. With only two years of remaining control before Scott Boras signs Elvis away to the highest bidder, this offseason was (and is) the best time to move him. At least that’s how I objectively see things. His value exponentially diminishes if Texas holds onto him until this July’s trade deadline, probably by a major prospect, and even more if we’re in the same position a year from now. Face it, next to Jurickson Profar and Yu Darvish, Elvis Andrus is the most valuable trade chip in our possession, and his replacement is already here. However, this may not figure at all into Jon Daniels’ rationale. It could be simpler;
(3) The Rangers don’t want to displace Ian Kinsler from 2nd base.
This is the most rational reason to keep Jurickson Profar in the Minor Leagues, contingent on (2) the Rangers being completely reluctant to move Andrus. Last year Kinsler was a 3.0 fWAR player at 2nd. If, as it’s previously been reported, the Rangers moved him to a corner outfield spot, he’d be docked about 1.0 WAR (based on how his stats measure up to other corner outfielders). If they moved him to 1st base, which has also been lobbed around, he’d lose closer to 1.5 WAR. These are things to consider vis a vis roster construction. 2013 is when Kinsler’s healthy 5-year, $70 million extension kicks in, and basic math dictates that he’ll have a hell of a time justifying the deal if he’s playing anywhere other than 2nd base.
Every year around playoff time, contending teams attempt to put forth their best 25-man roster. This is why — last year — the Orioles chose to call up top prospect Dylan Bundy, and why the Rangers added Jurickson Profar on August 31st, just hours before the deadline would have passed to make him ineligible for postseason play. For defense, speed, and a bench bat, it was the correct move to make. The start of the season is a bit different; circumstances aren’t as dire. If the Rangers have no plans on moving Elvis Andrus, then I suppose the smart decision is to make no decision at all. We can tuck Profar and Olt away down at AAA, preserve their arbitration clocks, and press on without another big bat in the lineup.
The way I see it, that’s a stagnant step in a backwards direction. The Rangers front office is fueled by progressive, objective, pragmatic men. They are constantly a step ahead of nearly every other team in baseball, if only for the simple reason that they aren’t afraid to take calculated risks to alter the franchise’s cosmetics.