During the offseason, or even prior to the July 31 trade deadline, we often hear the words ‘trading a player when his value is at its highest.’ I’m here to tell you it’s a matter of absolutes versus what ifs.
I tried to make that exact point on the Texas Rangers this past offseason and suggested a deal centered on shortstop Elvis Andrus. After coming off what was his best statistical season, I had the opinion that the Rangers should put a package deal together to get the piece, or pieces, they needed going into 2013. For what they could get, and for where Andrus’ value was at that point, could the Rangers have landed an ace like David Price or an impact bat such as Giancarlo Stanton? Instead of making such a deal, the Rangers opted to extend Andrus’ contract to carry him through the 2022 season, essentially removing the probability of him being traded anywhere, anytime soon.
The reason I made that particular argument was because Jurickson Profar, the game’s top prospect entering this past season, was patiently waiting his turn to show the Rangers, and the fan base, that he was worth every bit of hype that surrounded him prior to his call up to the big leagues in 2012. His status as an elite talent was the one thing the team was selling during his time in the minors. The club wanted their fans to look forward to seeing Profar in the future because, well, he was the future.
However, signing Elvis Andrus to a long-term deal makes one wonder about whether or not the team is committed to Profar at any level, and what their plans may be for him moving forward.
There has been a lot of talk on the Dallas/Ft. Worth radio airwaves about possibly of trading second baseman Ian Kinsler or moving him to the outfield in order for Profar to have an everyday role with this team, not just another guy coming off the bench.
Here’s the problem with trading Kinsler, even though I brought this exact topic up in a piece I wrote a few weeks ago: The Rangers aren’t likely to get much back in return, at least not the kind of impact players this club needs heading in to 2014 to return to the top of the American League West and make another World Series appearance.
So where does that leave the Texas Rangers? Unfortunately it probably leaves them with a decision that most didn’t believe this team, or front office, really wants to make.
It might be time to look into trading Profar.
With the World Series starting next week, the Rangers will begin putting names up on their theoretical white board and looking into how they acquire those players. As of right now, they have a need for two catchers — both A.J. Pierzynski and Geovany Soto are free agents — a first baseman to replace Mitch Moreland, even though general manager Jon Daniels says he’s not ready to give up on him yet, and a corner outfielder, assuming the team doesn’t give the starting job to Craig Gentry, who is clearly better suited for a part-time job.
There’s no question that Texas doesn’t want to trade Profar, only to see him do what Chris Davis did this past season with the Baltimore Orioles — explode into stardom after leaving Arlington. They don’t want this to turn into another Adrian Gonzalez deal to the San Diego Padres, either.
The two names everyone has wanted to talk about in the past, in terms of trade targets, are Price and Stanton. Each brings star-level impact.
Mike Bacsik, a part of CBS Radio’s “G-Bag Nation” on 105.3 FM The Fan in Dallas, Texas, said during the show that he would be interested in sending Andrus to the Los Angeles Dodgers for outfielder Matt Kemp. That deal may have been, at least somewhat, likely during the 2012 offseason but it seems extremely unlikely now. Or does it? Kemp’s been injured, and Hanley Ramirez is almost certainly better suited to play third base.
Take Andrus out of the equation and insert Profar?
If Profar were to be moved in any deal to any team, it’s not likely to be a one-for-one. Instead, such trades tend to end up as package-driven, and in the end Profar remains ‘prospective’ and unproven, suggesting other players will be necessary, though the 20-year-old is the headliner.
Profar for Kemp? Price? Stanton?
It may not be a popular move, especially with how much we’ve been hearing about the switch-hitting shortstop since he made his state side debut, but if the Rangers have no intention of trading Andrus, and can’t get a solid enough return for Kinsler, does that leave them with much of a choice if they have any plans to regain a spot on the ladder of October baseball?
It’s time for teams to not fear the “what if” about trading young talent, even the elite, if the return nets the absolute impact necessary to win it all. That fear will be the difference between making that one trade that means a great shot at a World Series or hanging onto a prospect that may never live up to the hype.
Jason spent 4 1/2 years at ESPN and two years at CBS Radio prior to joining HERO Sports in July, 2016.
Find Jason's Mariners podcast, Baseball Things, right here and follow him on Twitter @ProspectInsider.
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