Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar. Keep them both or trade one to fulfill one of the team’s many needs?
This is the question that is keeping the Texas Rangers’ front office up at night, and probably a lot of fans too.
If Jon Daniels and Co. were to decide that a trade is best, now is the time to make it happen. Both players’ values are at an all-time high. Andrus just finished his finest all-around season as a professional, while Profar has zoomed through the farm system, earned a promotion to the big leagues and emerged as an elite prospect.
This is where the name Justin Upton usually comes up. According to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com, Texas tried earlier this month to get the Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder in a deal that involved Mike Olt and the Atlanta Braves.
This trade obviously fell through, but the interest in Upton remains. Arizona made it clear they want a shortstop (via USA Today) from Texas, which just so happens to have two pretty good ones.
The Rangers need a young, potent bat in their lineup—even more so next year when the contracts of Michael Young, Nelson Cruz and David Murphy expire. The free-agent class is thin (or slightly complicated in Josh Hamilton’s case), which makes a player like Upton very intriguing.
With Andrus’ looming contract situation in two years, he seems like the most likely candidate to be dealt for Upton. Profar is under team control and has a very high ceiling, perhaps higher than Andrus.
However, is the Rangers’ need for a bat dire enough right now to swap Andrus for Upton?
The trade seems simple enough on paper. The Rangers get an immensely talented 25-year-old outfielder, and the Diamondbacks get one of the top shortstops in baseball. In the process, Texas can give Profar the full-time job at shortstop and solve their mess in the middle infield.
But, once you dig deeper, the situation gets a little more complicated.
Upton has two excellent seasons on his resume and lots of potential, but he has yet to string together two productive seasons in a row. The Rangers need a slam dunk if they plan on moving their All-Star shortstop. No disrespect to Upton—he’s still young—but if Texas is trying to compete for championships, they must be sure of the investment they’re making now and in the future.
Again, the reasoning behind trading Andrus is mostly financial. When his current contract expires, he will look to receive a huge new contract, aided by everybody’s favorite super agent, Scott Boras.
However, it is important to consider that the massive television deal the Rangers signed two years ago comes into effect in 2015, which is the year right after Andrus’ contract expires.
The front office is careful with the team’s spending, but the increased resources from this television contract will be well spent on Andrus. While he may never put up the gaudy offensive numbers that Upton can, Elvis still plays Gold Glove-caliber defense at a premium position. He has also emerged as a leader in a clubhouse that has taken the organization to new heights these past three seasons.
Holding on to Andrus is the right move for now, especially since Ian Kinsler said he is willing to switch positions (via ESPN.com) to help improve the team, clearing the way for Profar to be an everyday player.
No one says the Rangers have to make a move just yet. They have a good hand they don’t have to play at the moment. While the market is big for Upton, it cannot be said that he is one of the top players at his position, like it can with Andrus.
Keep an eye on Josh Hamilton and Zack Greinke. They represent two of the team’s biggest needs. Once those chips fall, everything this offseason should move much faster.