The narrative around the Texas Rangers infield has long held the idea that either Jurickson Profar or Elvis Andrus will be traded – if not in 2013, then not long after.
It’s reasonable enough, given that Andrus is going to get a whole lot more expensive after 2015, and Profar is a MLB-ready All-World prospect that plays in the same position. It’s a no brainer, right?
Well, not quite. Not as long as the questions around Nelson Cruz don’t go away, anyway.
While the team is preparing to open the 2013 season with Cruz in right field, they will also be preparing for a contingency plan just in case his link to the Biogenesis investigation being undertaken by the league results in a suspension.
Part of that will involve fellow top prospect Mike Olt, who played eight innings in right last seasons; but it will also involve getting Profar to take some reps in the outfield come Spring Training.
As Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports, Rangers GM Jon Daniels suggests this as a distinct possibility. The team is hoping to get across the message to its young players like Olt and Profar that they will have to be prepare to contribute to the club in any way, and that means “you may play on the corner, you may play some outfield. Just be prepared.”
Profar, of course, has been one of the league’s most highly-regarded shortstop/infield prospects for some time, but Daniels also believes that he has the athletic ability to be able to impact the team regardless of his position, saying “he may take some balls out there [in the outfield]” this Spring, and that the Rangers would be “open-minded” as to how he will progress in the big leagues.
They will have to be, especially considering that the team is in a state of considerable flux right now as the prepare to begin life without Josh Hamilton.
The Rangers brass, though, is not about making knee-jerk decisions, and seem determined to see this thing through. If Cruz does end up missing time due to a suspension, they will need a plan B to take over; in fact, they would have needed it at the end of 2013 anyway, when the 32-year old will be a free agent.
In fact, as long as we’re being open-minded, why stop at right field? It’s not as though the Leonys Martin/Craig Gentry combo at center is distinguishing the two as part of the team’s future. If Profar has the athletic ability to learn how to play right field, could he learn to do the same at center?
His bat would be an immediate upgrade to what the Rangers have there, and he would dissolve the idea that the team has to trade either him or Andrus because of a log-jam in the infield.
The team may be entering Spring Training with a crowd in the infield, but Cruz’s recent problems may have just kicked off a series of events that will eventually see the unexpected result of having both Profar and Olt patrolling the Rangers outfield.