Speculation-based posts aren’t my usual cup of tea, but I think that this speculated topic has some legitimate merit worth exploring. As you very well know by now, Jurickson Profar, the 20-year old, top-rated prospect in all of MLB has been in a handful of trade rumors. From a mused, Profar-for-Oscar Taveras swap, to more realistic propositions of Profar (plus others) for Giancarlo Stanton or David Price, Profar’s name has certainly been bandied about.
May 20, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers second baseman Jurickson Profar (13) throws to first during the game against the Oakland Athletics at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Oakland won 9-2. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
So that brings us to this: Are there any true motivations for the Rangers to trade such a prospect of Profar’s caliber?
Just this April, the Rangers signed current shortstop, Elvis Andrus, to an 8-year, $120MM extension, and last April, the Rangers agreed to a 5-year, $75MM extension with second baseman, Ian Kinsler. Regardless of Profar, the Rangers are set in the middle infield for the present and future, not to mention up and coming middle infield prospects such as Luis Sardinas, whom are finding their way up many prospect rankings. The Rangers simply don’t appear to have an open spot for Jurickson Profar at the MLB level at his natural position(s), which brings us to this question:
What exactly is Jurickson Profar’s trade value?
Well, to properly assess a prospect’s trade value, one must assess the prospect’s toolset, his expected ceiling and floor, followed by his make up. There is a reason why Profar is the No. 1 rated prospect in all of baseball. To begin, Profar displays a full arsenal of average, to above-average tools across the board. Not a one of Profar’s tools are truly elite, but none of his tools are below average, which often times makes Profar one of the best baseball players on every diamond he plays upon. Secondly, Profar displays both an extremely high ceiling and floor, meaning that if Profar can develop into the peak of his talents, he could become a perennial MVP candidate or at worst, an above average middle infielder at the MLB level. Lastly, Profar has elite make up. There have been numerous write-ups describing Profar’s top-notch instincts and baseball IQ, which usually lends a major hand in predicting just how far a prospect can develop.
To put it simply, Profar is a scout’s dream: An exceptional prospect at a premium position with elite make up and highly projectable tools. Profar is the type of prospect that other teams would demand in a high-profile trade, such as the rumored, Stanton or Price scenarios. The Rangers do not have any needs for a middle infielder at the MLB level, but the team certainly has a need for a corner outfielder (Stanton) or a starting pitcher (Price).
Which brings us to the ultimate point of this post: Why the Rangers will not trade Jurickson Profar.
Obviously, holding onto Profar would imply that the Rangers will eventually be asking that Ian Kinsler and/or Mitch Moreland move positions in 2014. In this scenario, either Kinsler moves to left field in 2014 and Profar goes to second base, or Kinsler movies to first base with Moreland taking over in left field or right field, with Profar again taking over at second base. Logically, both of these moves do make sense but also do not make sense at the same time. It is rather clear however, that David Murphy and/or Nelson Cruz will not be in Texas in 2014, meaning that Ian Kinsler’s or Mitch Moreland’s bat in a COF position would be highly welcome, but then again, so would Giancarlo Stanton’s.
It is no secret that the Rangers have the assets to acquire players of Stanton and Price’s caliber, and that holding onto Jurickson Profar is probably not the decision with the biggest impact, but let us quickly look back at the Justin Upton rumblings during the offseason.
During the Winter Meetings, it was clear that Arizona intended to trade their young slugger, and right from the beginning, it was mentioned that Arizona coveted both of the Rangers’ shortstops in a potential deal, but Texas was extremely reluctant to deal Andrus or Profar and instead tried to build a package around Mike Olt. Remember, at the time it was speculated that Texas was simply posturing in an attempt to raise Andrus’ trade value, as it seemed extremely unlikely that the team would extend Andrus. Additionally, it made more financial sense to acquire a young, power hitter in Upton and go with a stud prospect at shortstop in Profar, whom would be making league minimum. Yet, the consistent dialogue coming from Jon Daniels was that the Rangers preferred to keep Andrus and Profar. Daniels also voiced the Rangers’ desire to extend Elvis Andrus, which indeed ended up happening (so much for that being nothing more than a posturing tactic).
Which brings us to this interesting quote from GM Jon Daniels when questioned on the possibility of extending Andrus:
"Our preference would be to continue to have a good [thing] probably, meaning with Kinsler, Elvis and Profar, have three guys with two positions. We would love to extend Elvis. We extended Ian, obviously Jurickson is going to be here for some time, and we would love to extend Elvis."
If there is one thing that I’ve learned in all of my years of following Jon Daniels’ tenure as the Rangers’ GM, it is that when Daniels goes out of his way to say something, he usually means it. Daniels went out of his way to state the team’s desire to keep and extend Andrus, and it ended up happening. I don’t think it’s inconceivable that with the emergence of mega television deals in the game today and the affects that these deals have already had on the free agent market, that the Rangers are reluctant to trade Jurickson Profar. Obviously moving Kinsler to left field would lower his value, as his bat would probably be considered average for a COF, but then again, there aren’t many cheaper external alternatives in terms of the cost of cash and prospects and additionally, Kinsler would most certainly be an upgrade over David Murphy. It would essentially be a cost-effective, internal upgrade.
The Rangers certainly have the necessary motivations to trade Jurickson Profar, but given the way that the team has operated, I quite honestly don’t see such a trade ever materializing. As an organization, the Rangers view the year of 2015 as momentous (2015 is the year that the television deal begins). Anything between now and then is ultimately important. Take this quote from Rangers’ co-owner, Bob Simpson as evidence:
"Success follows success. By 2015 the goal is that this team will be self-sustaining, but our payroll may be another 40 or 50 percent higher. So that will move you up to a level where you should field a great team year after year. We just need to bridge the gap [between now and the TV contract] to get this great franchise to permanent success."
This quote could imply one of many things, but to me, self-sustaining implies a team that develops its own talent. Jurickson Profar is the result of Texas’ scouting and developmental departments. Utilizing cheap, yet top-notch, young talent is what self-sustenance is all about. The Rangers have often employed the actions of a team with big market resources making decisions like a small market club. If anything, small market clubs don’t deal their No. 1 prospects. The Rangers will not trade Jurickson Profar because the Rangers aren’t wary of making the moves with the littlest impact, just take the Justin Upton “fiasco” as an example. The Rangers are primarily concerned with sustaining a winning organization, and Jurickson Profar is the type of player that provides incredible value for an organization. Profar is simply the kind of player that teams do not trade for anybody. Incidentally, David Price is a free agent after the 2015 season—Go figure.