COMMENTARY | The July 31 non-waiver trading deadline is just over a month away. With a rash of injuries to starting pitchers and position players alike, the Rangers figure to be major buyers at the trading deadline.
In just over a month's time (since May 19), the Texas Rangers have seen a 7-game lead in the American League West disintegrate and become a 3-game deficit. They have been plagued by a lack of clutch hitting as well as a lack of consistent pitching during the prolonged slump. They will no doubt be looking to improve the team in both areas as the deadline approaches.
Since the Rangers have baseball's top prospect, 20-year-old shortstop Jurickson Profar, and no place to put him, any team that discusses a trade with the Rangers will likely ask for Profar in return.
If the Rangers trade Profar, there is a chance he will turn out to be a superstar with a different team. That is the risk any team takes when they make a trade that involves prospects. The Rangers have seen this happen before (Sammy Sosa immediately comes to mind).
Sometimes these deadline deals pay off, however. Ranger fans may remember 3 years ago when they traded away prospects Justin Smoak and Blake Beavan to Seattle for Cliff Lee. Even though Lee ended up as a rental player for the Rangers, he still pitched the team to the first World Series in their history.
Some are vehemently against trading Profar, and understandably so. He is the complete package and he plays a premium position; a player with his talent doesn't come along often. Yet trading him makes sense because with the Rangers, Profar is caught in sort of a baseball purgatory. He is ready for the majors, so he can't go back to the minors; yet he has no place to play with the Rangers at the big-league level unless they play him out of position.
Having baseball's top prospect who is a 20-year-old shortstop ready for the majors gives the Rangers a tremendous amount of leverage in a trade. Profar has performed adequately with the Rangers this year and his trade value is at an all-time high. The Rangers should use this to their advantage.
In other words, don't just give him away. Trade him only if it improves the team significantly and gives the Rangers a chance to win the World Series. Get several players in return, preferably a mixture of veterans and prospects. Directly address the needs of the team, which are glaring at this point. Get some starting pitching. Get a right-handed bat with power. Get some middle relief help.
If the Rangers don't trade Profar and keep juggling him between second base, shortstop, and the bench, or if they try moving him to the outfield or third base (which has been discussed), they won't be doing him or the team any favors. If they do decide to trade him later, they will find his trade value has greatly diminished.
Strike while the iron is hot. Climb through the window of opportunity while it's still open. If trading Profar could guarantee a World Series championship, even if it was a "one and done," what Ranger fan wouldn't do it?
Brian Honea is a Dallas, Texas-based freelance writer and a lifelong follower of the Texas Rangers.
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