Rangers have options, including status quo
11/08/2012 11:30 PM
03/24/2013 1:08 AM
INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- A trip to the GM meetings wasn't needed to remind the Texas Rangers they have an embarrassment of riches at shortstop.
General manager Jon Daniels has gotten a sense of that throughout the off-season, as the majority of the calls he takes from other teams involve the availability of Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar.
"People see the depth in our infield, specifically at shortstop and the challenge of filling that position in the industry," Daniels said Thursday. "That's probably the most popular call we get."
The most popular trade rumor over two days of meetings at the Hyatt Regency Resort and Spa has involved one of the Rangers' shortstops for Arizona right fielder Justin Upton.
The question becomes if Upton, who could help replace Josh Hamilton should he not re-sign, is enticement enough for the Rangers to unload Andrus or Profar.
"It would have to be a pretty unique thing for us to think about," Daniels said.
If Upton isn't worth a shortstop, the question becomes just how much Profar will play in 2013 with the middle of the infield set in stone.
To knife Profar into the lineup could set in motion a series of dominos that could create more maneuvering than the potential loss of Hamilton in free agency.
"There's not a clear spot for him as we sit today, but everything is on the table," Daniels said. "He could be in Round Rock to start. He could be in the big leagues. A lot depends on what happens between now and then."
The Diamondbacks aren't actively pursuing a trade of their best player, who is only 25 and has three years and $38 million remaining on his current contract.
The Rangers like Upton, who hit for less power in 2012 but became a better hitter along the way. Some in the game believe he would have 40-homer potential if he played half his games at Rangers Ballpark.
"Our sights are set pretty high on what it would take," Arizona GM Kevin Towers said. "We're not in a position where we want to do prospect deals. We feel like we've got a chance to win next year."
Towers said that nothing has developed this week that is worth doing, but Arizona might also be inclined to trade for a third baseman. The Rangers have an extra player there, Mike Olt.
Dealing away Olt could potentially leave the Rangers thin at the infield corners if injuries were to hit third baseman Adrian Beltre and first baseman Mitch Moreland, who could get a chance to face more left-handed pitchers in 2013.
For now, Olt and Profar are teammates for Licey in the Dominican Winter League. They could play together for the first time as soon as this weekend.
The Rangers don't want to deal Andrus or Profar, or Olt for that matter. Andrus, though, is represented by agent Scott Boras, whose clients are urged to explore free agency.
Andrus has two years and $11.275 million left on a team-friendly deal. His value now might be at its highest.
"I leave it to the teams to let us know what their choices are in these areas," Boras said. "I think Elvis' play assures him that all's well. I think Elvis is doing great where he's at, and I think the team has a very high value of him."
The Rangers have discussed a scenario in which Profar plays 120 games in 2013, mostly at second base. That would require trading Ian Kinsler, who signed a five-year extension in April, or asking him to move to left field.
Daniels said that the Rangers have not discussed a move with Kinsler, a three-time All-Star at second.
But that would take a chunk out of David Murphy's playing time while also creating a situation in which it would be difficult to land an outfielder such as Upton or free agents Nick Swisher or Torii Hunter.
The Rangers don't seem inclined to trade right fielder Nelson Cruz, especially if Hamilton's 43-homer bat doesn't return.
The possibilities are interesting. Then again, said Daniels, it's possible that nothing much changes at all.
"Everything is kind of connected for us right now," Daniels said. "That's why I keep saying we've got a lot of options and a lot of ways we could go. One of them is status quo. That's a pretty good option, too."
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760
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