Middle Infield, Still Quite Crowded

Middle
This past November I was awaken from a nap by an update on my phone saying that Ian Kinsler had been traded to Detroit in exchange for Prince Fielder. To say that it caught me by surprise might be an understatement. I’m sure many of you would probably say the same. So what did it mean? It meant many different things, but not the least important of them is the fact that now there’s a place for Jurickson Profar to play every day.
For a good while now, many of us that follow this organization very closely have known Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus, and the young Profar were three individuals for whom there were only two jobs. One would undoubtedly have to go. If you’re like me you probably assumed that Kinsler was the least likely one to go. Due to his age more than anything his trade value was perceived as lower. So to have acquired a left handed power hitting first baseman was a great thing in my eyes. Perhaps as important as anything though is that the middle infield logjam is now clear, or is it?

With a chance to play everyday and prove his worth 2014 could be a statement season for the young Profar. At the same time Rougned Odor and Luis Sardinas will be playing every night right up the road in Frisco looking to prove they belong with a big league club. It doesn’t end there. Last June the Rangers used the compensatory pick they received for the loss of Josh Hamilton to take high school shortstop Travis Demeritte (though some believe he will end up at third base). When Craig Gentry was sent to Oakland earlier this offseason Michael Choice wasn’t the only player the team got back. Twenty-year-old second baseman Chris Bostick was also included and there are those that believe he has great upside as well. Just last season the club sent Leury Garcia to the south side of Chicago in exchange for Alex Rios or else things would be even crowded. 

There’s no reason to think that Andrus and Profar can’t be a great up the middle duo for this club for the next half dozen years. The somewhat hard fact though is that if all of these players end up fulfilling their potential (big “if” I know) a few of them will likely do it for another team. I can’t help but think that Jon Daniels loses a fair amount of sleep over this issue. Sadly, I doubt that it’s more than I do. The variety of possible outcomes is something that I torture myself with daily. 

It is all but a fact now that some of these talented young players will play elsewhere. My biggest fear is that it might end up being the wrong ones. As much as the team has committed financially to winning in the coming years the hope is that whoever does end up leaving brings back a quality piece that helps contribute to a World Series winner. If that happens I think most of us will be able to grin a bear it. On top of that, if the players the organization decides to keep are equally as productive as those they don’t there’s no problem at all. 

Here is something else worth considering. When a player is traded many fans fear seeing them succeed elsewhere, but I have to imagine there are some benefits to this. If everyone that you trade away fails to blossom doesn’t that make you a less attractive trade partner; one whose products tend to become doubted by other executives throughout the league. I know that speaking for myself if the products I buy somewhere tend to be duds I’m going to do my shopping elsewhere. 

It will be fascinating to see what all of these young men develop into in the coming years. I personally hope they all turn into great major leaguers. When and where and if that happens for the most part is yet to be determined, but it certainly gives the gang over in Arlington a great deal of flexibility that I trust they’ll use to make the Texas Rangers even better still.

Chase Bottlinger

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