The Texas Rangers have a unique problem at the shortstop position that most teams around the league would envy.
They have 24-year-old Elvis Andrus, who in a few short years has already established himself as one of the best shortstops in the American League. They also have budding star Jurickson Profar, who at age 19 is considered one of the top prospects in baseball and a future superstar in the league.
Both players can’t play shortstop at the same time. Andrus will be a free agent after 2014 and is represented by super-agent Scott Boras, which further complicates the situation.
There is a possibility the Rangers shuffle some players around, meet Boras’ expected contract demands, and keep both Andrus and Profar. There is also a real possibility that Andrus is dealt before his contract expires.
Should this happen, here are some possible landing spots for the young All-Star.
A potential landing spot is Philadelphia. Current shortstop Jimmy Rollins has had a great career there, but it looks like his most productive years might be behind him. Rollins turns 34-year-old at the end of this year and has a contract that expires after 2013 (vesting option for 2014).
Money might be a problem because the Phillies already have a lot of money invested in players like Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and Ryan Howard. However, these players aren’t getting any younger and Philadelphia has a fan base that expects winners.
Andrus would add an injection of youth to the team, replace Shane Victorino at the top of the lineup, and play Gold Glove caliber defense the Phillies have seen for so many years with Rollins.
The Cardinals are another team with an aging player currently at shortstop. Rafael Furcal turns 35 later this year.
No doubt the baseball-crazy city of St. Louis would love a chance to sign a player like Andrus, who is a multiple time All-Star and plays the game with a lot of energy.
The defending champions might have some wiggle room financially with no Albert Pujols and Lance Berkman’s contract ending after this year.
They also have some pieces in the farm system that could tempt the Rangers.
One thing they could really use is a shortstop like Andrus. He is an upgrade defensively and provides speed at the top of the lineup in front of Harper and Ryan Zimmerman.
Washington gave Jason Werth a huge contract a couple years ago to show they weren’t afraid to spend money. Shortstop is one of the premiere positions in baseball, and Andrus would be worth the investment.
The problem is the Nationals already gave up some of their best prospects to get Gio Gonzalez. Is what they have left worth giving up for Elvis? That will be a big decision for the front office.
The Giants could use some help on offense. Pitching has always been their strength and a player like Andrus could help put runs on the board in a number of ways.
Elvis would be an upgrade and long-term solution at shortstop that San Francisco hasn’t had in a number of years.
The farm system is thin, but they have some players in the system they can use as trade bait.
With Barry Zito’s enormous contract expiring after 2013, the Giants might just be tempted enough to make a push for Andrus.
If the Pirates are serious about winning, they need to upgrade at shortstop. Clint Barmes is hitting .219 with a .247 OBP this year.
They have some good pieces already, like All-Star Andrew McCutchen, Neil Walker, and Garrett Jones. Adding Andrus would really bring another dimension to the Pirates offense.
Pittsburg has one of the better farm systems in baseball, so putting a deal together to acquire Andrus wouldn’t be a big issue.
Financially, it’s a different story. The Pirates rank towards the bottom of the league in payroll. Once again, if they want to compete, they need to invest more in star players like Andrus.
Cincinnati could also be in the running for Andrus if the time comes. Zack Cozart is only 27, but Andrus is younger and already more accomplished.
The Reds could add Elvis with Brandon Phillips to create a dynamic top of the lineup. Those two in front of sluggers like Joey Votto and Jay Bruce would lead to a lot more runs.
Combine that with their solid, young pitching and Cincinnati could have a strong hold on the division for years to come.
If the Rangers move Andrus, it makes the most sense to send him to the National League. Still, there are some AL teams who would make a strong push for Elvis.
The most popular possibility is that he wears pinstripes and succeeds Derek Jeter as the Yankees’ shortstop of the future.
Jeter is having a fantastic season at age 38, but New York can’t bank on him having many more years like this one. Andrus provides a younger alternative who is just now entering his prime.
Money is never an object for the Yankees, but they will have to put together a very tempting trade package to pry Elvis away from Texas. After all, the Rangers are not about to give player like him away for nothing, especially to a team they plan on seeing in the postseason for years to come.