The Rangers’ Ongoing Search for a Utility Infielder
In 2012, the Rangers employed the likes of Alberto Gonzalez and Michael Young to fulfill the job as the team’s utility infielders. Gonzalez was a non-factor in his 55 plate appearances, posting a dreadful wRC+ of 39 and a fWAR of 0.0, but then again, it was a very small sample size. On the other hand, Young was even more ineffective, posting a wRC+ of 78 and a fWAR of -1.4 (I mentioned Young as being more ineffective, this is due to the fact that Young also spent the majority of his time as the team’s DH). By August, the Rangers designated Gonzalez for assignment, and in the case of Young, the Rangers traded him to the Phillies during the offseason.
Feb 25, 2013; Salt River Pima-Maricopa, AZ, USA; Texas Rangers shortstop Jurickson Profar (top) readies during the seventh inning against the Colorado Rockies at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Heading into 2013, it was speculated that the Rangers may consider using Jurickson Profar as the utility infielder. This was a strange idea, as it would obviously stunt Profar’s development as compared to him playing every day in Triple-A, and earlier today, Jon Heyman reported via twitter (link), that the Rangers are looking to acquire a UIF, thusly negating any notion of Profar being used as the team’s UIF.
Currently, it appears that Jeff Baker will make the team, given his strong Spring, but Baker is not able to play SS, and that is a problem. As it stands now, the bench would be as follows:
- OF-Craig Gentry/Leonys Martín
- 3B/2B/COF-Jeff Baker
- C-Geovany Soto
Externally, the Rangers do appear to have some options, as utility infielders aren’t exactly a rare commodity, and earlier today, it was reported that the Astros were looking to trade Tyler Greene, but his bat and glove aren’t very inspiring. Other than Greene, the only other visible option is Ryan Theriot. Theriot remains unsigned but is reportedly still looking to play, given the right offer. Offensively, Theriot has a career wRC+ of 85, and as a UIF who primarily plays in the middle infield, the Rangers could definitely do worse. Defensively, Theriot has a career UZR of -5.1 in 4,454 innings. As a comparison, former Rangers’ UIF, Andrés Blanco holds a UZR of 3.7 at SS in 751.1 innings.
In conclusion, the Rangers are making the obvious choice to start Profar in Triple-A by looking at external options to fill the UIF void. In a perfect universe, the Rangers would acquire a UIF whose strongest tool is his glove at both SS and 2B. How well this player hits is not the primary concern, hell it may not even be the secondary concern. Ryan Theriot is an average middle infielder, which sounds good as a potential UIF, but defensively at SS, I’d at least like to hope that the Rangers could do better. I am sure that here are many external options to fill the void of UIF on the Rangers’ bench, but only time will tell as to whom the Rangers are looking to acquire.