Already this off-season the Texas Rangers have been portrayed as one of the handful of major league clubs who have the most money to spend and most prospects to trade to help improve their club.
They also have some of the biggest potential holes to fill.
They also have three middle infielders for two spots, and the general assumption is that one of the two incumbents will be traded.
As the annual general managers’ meetings open Monday in Orlando, this Rangers’ off-season has taken on the look and feel of the one last year. Many of the characters are different, but holdover Jon Daniels again will attempt to untangle the web at second base and shortstop.
“I don’t know just yet, honestly,” Daniels said last week. “We’ve said all along that our preference is not to trade any of those guys. At some point, we’re going to have to make a decision.
“I just don’t want to force anything. These are all good players that we like. If there’s a fit that makes us better, it’s our job and we’ve got to consider it. But we’re certainly not approaching it as if we have to trade one. I don’t feel that way at all.”
Daniels believes that having Ian Kinsler at second base, Elvis Andrus at shortstop and Jurickson Profar in the super utility role again won’t be a hindrance on the 2014 Rangers, though he and his staff haven’t been able to quantify how much that benefited the club in 2013.
Profar took his lumps offensively and made some costly miscues in the field while bouncing around second base, shortstop and third base, and even a little left field, as a big-league rookie.
But manager Ron Washington was able to give Kinsler, Andrus and Adrian Beltre more rest with either days off or days off their feet at DH by using Profar, and the hope is that he will learn from his rookie-year struggles.
The Rangers have not lost any faith in Profar.
“It was challenging for him, and I think it impacted on how he could prepare and ultimately on his production,” Daniels said. “But I feel and the organization feels as we did 12 months ago.”
Trading one of the three is easier said than done. The Rangers would expect to receive a significant return for any of the three, but would likely have to take on a significant chunk of the money owed Kinsler ($62 million over four years) and Andrus ($66.48 million over five years).
Profar’s value took a hit in the eyes of some scouts from other clubs, and might not be the bargaining piece he was a year ago as the top prospect in baseball.
The Rangers would be looking for some power bats, which almost every other team in the game is seeking, or a starting pitcher (David Price) who would upgrade a rotation that is considered to be solid enough.
As the GM meetings open, and with the winter meetings less then a month away, expect to hear and read plenty about the Rangers and their abundance of middle infielders.
“It’s still three guys we hold in high regard, two of which have been very productive at the major league level and Jurickson, a guy we expect will be,” Daniels said. “We feel as strongly now as we did a year ago.”