The 2013 Texas Rangers’ starting lineup should look different next season, as the organization is expected to lose both Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli via free agency.
But despite the absence of Napoli at first base, the Rangers’ infield should be identical with Ian Kinsler at second, Elvis Andrus at shortstop and Adrian Beltre at the hot corner.
However, with shortstop Jurickson Profar, baseball’s unanimous top prospect, almost big-league-ready, the organization will seemingly have an enviable surplus of infielders headed into the 2013 season.
Considering that Beltre and Andrus are both signed through the upcoming season, it’s highly doubtful that Profar, in his age-20 season, would receive playing time over the incumbents—including Kinsler—despite his immensely bright future.
Rather, it seems that Profar’s only clear path to regular playing time will come through a trade. The only question is whether such a move would involve Andrus or their young phenom. Yet, in a recent interview on WEII’s Red Sox Hot Stove show, General Manager Jon Daniels stated that the organization has no intention of trading either Andrus or Kinsler.
Think of it this way: if a team is calling about the availability of Andrus, they might as well be inquiring about Profar.
With only one year remaining on his current contract, it’s a safe assumption that the asking price for their young phenom will be of equal, if not greater, value. And given the Rangers’ immediate need for catching, outfielders and starting pitching—which will also be addressed via free agency—the return has the potential to be substantial.
After excelling as a 19-year-old in Double-A this past season, the Rangers took everyone by surprise when they elected to call up Profar to aid their playoff run. It’s not that he was undeserving—not at all; the kid batted .281/.368/.452 with 47 extra-base hits, 16 stolen bases and 79/66 K/BB, all the while playing electric defense at a premium position.
But with their aforementioned solidified infield, it was difficult to envision Profar receiving enough at-bats to thoroughly justify the decision. While the no-doubt home run in his first career plate appearance offered a glimpse of the future, it also created a collective desire to see him in the lineup more frequently.
It’s unlikely that the organization can keep him in the minor leagues for a majority of the 2013 season. Like I said: No. 1 prospect in baseball, homered in his first at-bat, (insert choice superlative/accomplishment here). And if I the Rangers, I’d listen to each and every offer.