Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels understands the interest other clubs have shown in infielder Jurickson Profar and, to a lesser extent, center fielder Leonys Martin.
“He’s the guy we would ask about,” Daniels said of Profar. “He looks really good and feels really good.”
The Rangers have been approached by multiple clubs about both, hoping to steal away two young players with potentially tremendous upside. The Yankees are interested in Profar, according to the New York Post.
We’re open to anything, but the way we look at Jurickson [Profar] is we’ve invested these last two years getting him right. We’re almost there. He’s not all the way there yet; he hasn’t gone out there and played shortstop.
Rangers GM Jon Daniels
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Profar, 22, has looked good as a designated hitter in the Arizona Fall League while he continues to recover from February shoulder surgery. He went 2 for 4 with a three-run homer Tuesday. He’s expected to be ready by spring training.
“Everybody sees the Fall League, he’s playing very well out there,” Daniels said Tuesday at the GM Meetings at the Boca Raton Resort and Club. “It’s confirmation for us and everybody else this guy is back to where he was before he got hurt.”
Daniels insists the Rangers are not shopping Profar, especially, as he pointed out, at below-market price for a player who just two years ago was rated the top prospect in the minor leagues by Baseball America, MLB.com and Baseball Prospectus. He played in 85 games as a rookie in 2013 but missed the next two seasons with shoulder injuries.
“We’re open to anything, but the way we look at Jurickson is we’ve invested these last two years getting him right,” Daniels said. “We’re almost there. He’s not all the way there yet; he hasn’t gone out there and played shortstop.”
By March, however, a healthy and productive Profar could attract more lucrative trade options.
“Any club is going to have some level of question about him until they see [him play shortstop],” Daniels said. “We may never trade him but if we were to consider it, it would only be a situation where a club valued him appropriately.”
It’s premium, premium defense with more offensive ability than we’ve gotten out of him to this point. We’ve engaged and we’ve talked to some teams but he’s not a guy we need to move.
Daniels on CF Leonys Martin
The Rangers have similar views on Martin, who struggled at the plate in 2015 but remains one of the league’s best defensive center fielders. At the moment, Martin is the only true center fielder on the roster besides Delino DeShields.
“It’s premium, premium defense with more offensive ability than we’ve gotten out of him to this point,” Daniels said. “We’ve engaged and we’ve talked to some teams but he’s not a guy we need to move.”
If Profar proves healthy and ready in the spring, the Rangers wouldn’t have an everyday position available. Daniels said the plan is likely to have him begin the season with Triple A Round Rock.
“Not right now, but things change,” Daniels said. “Two years ago there wasn’t an everyday spot for [Rougned] Odor. He hasn’t played in two years so there’s nothing wrong with having him go play down there.”
Banister a finalist
Rangers manager Jeff Banister was named one of three finalists for the AL Manager of the Year Award, voted on by the Baseball Writers Association of America. The others are the Astros’ A.J. Hinch and the Twins’ Paul Molitor. The winner will be announced at 5 p.m. Nov. 17 on MLB Network.
The Rangers would like to add another catcher for depth, preferably a younger prospect to understudy behind Robinson Chirinos, 31, Chris Gimenez, who turns 33 next month, and Carlos Corporan, who turns 32 in January.
Closer Shawn Tolleson was named the Rangers Pitcher of the Year by the local chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America. In his first season as a closer, Tolleson went 6-4 with 35 saves and a 2.99 ERA. His 35 saves and 73 appearances both ranked fifth in the American League. His 94.6 percent conversion rate in save opportunities is a Rangers record and was second-best among AL closers.
He’s the first closer to win the club honor since Joaquin Benoit in 2007 and ninth overall. He’ll receive the award at the Rangers Awards Dinner on Jan. 22 at the Gaylord Texan Resort.
An Evening with the Rangers, featuring Banister and pitcher Cole Hamels, is scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. Dec. 16 in the Cholula Porch at Globe Life Park. Net proceeds for the event will benefit the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation. New and unwrapped toy donations for the Cowboy Santas Program are also encouraged. Tickets are $250 per couple, and include photographs with Banister and Hamels, autographs and a multi-course holiday meal.
For tickets and more information go to texasrangers.com or call 817-273-5030.
Stefan Stevenson, 817-390-7760