COMMENTARY | The Texas Rangers have a problem, and they had it all last season: They have two shortstops on the roster who should be starting.
One of them, Jurickson Profar, is the top prospect in baseball. The incumbent, Elvis Andrus, is 25 and signed an eight-year contract worth $118 million before last season that doesn't even kick in until 2015.
Last year, a major league-ready Profar played the role of super utilityman, appearing in 32 games at second base, 10 games at third, four in the outfield, 20 games at DH, and only 18 games at his natural position, shortstop. As a result of not having a regular position (and not playing every day), Profar's offense suffered. He batted only .234 in 324 plate appearances.
Rumors are swirling that the Rangers are shopping both Andrus and second baseman Ian Kinsler to clear a regular spot for Profar in the middle infield. Kinsler is the longest-tenured Ranger but will turn 32 next season and seems to be entering his decline phase a little early. He also has a lengthy injury history.
The Rangers are doing the right thing by keeping Profar and trying to trade either Kinsler or Andrus, although both have become very popular players during their time in Arlington.
Here are five reasons why the Rangers should hold on to Profar and play him every day at either shortstop or second depending on who they trade:
* Upside. Profar is just 20 and will turn 21 in February. Andrus will turn 26 in August and already has five full seasons as the Rangers' shortstop. Obviously, the Rangers like the upside of Andrus or they would not have given him a $118 million contract. But Profar is five years younger, and five baseball years are like dog years. No one can blame Profar for not setting the league on fire at age 20 last season, especially when his season was full of uncertainty as to where and when he was going to play.
* Cheaper. The Rangers owe both Andrus and Kinsler boatloads of money. Profar still gets the major-league minimum and will not even be eligible for arbitration until 2016.
* Ability. Profar is a legitimate five-tool player and is also a switch-hitter who plays a premium position. He has the potential to hit for power -- he knocked six homers in half a season last year and will only hit more with time. Andrus has speed and is solid defensively but does not offer much else -- he gets on base at a league-average pace and does not hit for power. Kinsler frequently makes the dazzling plays but botches routine ones, and he also saw a sharp decline in his power totals last season.
* Risk. It's happened to the Rangers before -- trading a prospect and watching him become a star for another team. Remember Sammy Sosa? Dave Stewart? Profar is going to become a major league star. The Rangers would rather see that happen while Profar is with them than with someone else.
* Return. Profar is the top prospect in baseball and would command a steep price on the trade market if the Rangers were to make a deal. They are not going to just give him away. Could the Rangers even get what Profar is worth? Profar is coveted, but is there another team willing to sell the farm to get him?
Brian Honea is a Dallas, Texas-based freelance writer who is a lifelong Texas Rangers follower.
- Sports & Recreation
- Jurickson Profar
- Elvis Andrus