It wasn’t so long ago that top prospect Jurickson Profar was considered a prime trade chip and the odd man out in the Texas Rangers infield, and after a disappointing first go-around in the bigs (-0.4 fWAR, .234/.308/.336 triple-slash), it’s still relatively unclear where he’ll fit in with the team’s core group going forward as both Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus not going anywhere anytime soon.
Which is too bad, really, because he’d fit in just fine with the Toronto Blue Jays.
On paper, you’d think that if the two teams haven’t already discussed a potential trade, they probably ought to be; with David Murphy and Nelson Cruz both potentially leaving town in the offseason, the Rangers are going to be looking for at least one outfielder, if not more just for depth. The Blue Jays, on the other hand, have more viable outfielders than they can play even with Rajai Davis likely leaving for richer pastures.
So, with Toronto having essentially next to nothing at second base and Profar not going back to the minors next year for Texas, there’s probably a deal to be made here, yes?
Well, that’s where things get a little bit more complicated. While the teams are a fit to dance in the trade floor as far as needs go, they may find some disagreement with the quality of the players they might be involved. To put it simply, the Rangers are likely looking at Profar as a centerpiece in a potential blockbuster deal. Whether that’s actually going to be the case or not is a bit irrelevant at this point, as they’ve shown that they’re willing to hold on to him.
As such, any trade involving the youngster and the Blue Jays likely begins and ends with the inclusion of Jose Bautista, which would complicate matters for Toronto in more ways than one.
Forget for a moment that the team would be losing his power production in the middle of the order. As the Blue Jays actually finished fourth in homers in 2013 with 185, that might not actually be the biggest concern; if Profar can start living up to his all-world prospect hype, you’d think that things would eventually end up evening out given that the Blue Jays do have folks like Anthony Gose and Moises Sierra waiting in the wings.
No, the biggest issues goes beyond performance and into the realm of team chemistry.
See, trading Bautista isn’t necessarily a bad idea in an of itself, but moving the clubhouse leader and face of the franchise probably wouldn’t likely sit very well with Edwin Encarnacion or Jose Reyes (and Melky Cabrera too), his Dominican brethren in Toronto. It’s not to say that all of those player have to stick together, but it should go without saying that shipping Bautista off makes more of a statement to the team’s intentions of competing than moving Melky would.
The other issue here is how much Profar would actually succeed in the short term. While his long-term outlook remains bright, he is merely 20-years old, and another year of equally disappointing performance could be on tap in 2014. If he doesn’t start flashing his immense potential until say, 2016, that would put the Blue Jays in an awkward position of not being fully in a rebuild but not quite having the pieces to compete either.
Still, given that players with Profar’s tools don’t come around too often at a premium middle infield position, it’s definitely worthwhile for Toronto to at least pursue the possibility of acquiring him from the Rangers. If they end up having to move Bautista to do so, however, it wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine that the Blue Jays would also be looking to move guys like Reyes and Encarnacion as well — no half measures, right?