The Untradeable Jurickson Profar

profar
The term “untouchable” is thrown around a lot regarding the upper echelon of players and prospects for each team. “Is Player X untouchable in trade talks?” A wondering journalist might ask a team’s GM, or perhaps even one GM may pose the question to another. Often the response is that no one is untouchable, just as it should be. Jurickson Profar is the closest thing the Rangers have had to an untouchable prospect in some time, and he isn’t untouchable, but is he untradeable? 
For a player to be untouchable, the implication is that there is no possible scenario in which that player would be traded. However, there is no reason why any player should ever literally be considered untouchable. Every player in baseball could be moved in such a way that it improves his current team. Mike Trout is the most valuable player in baseball based on his ability, age, contract status, position on the field, marketability, and more. And yet, the Angels could trade Mike Trout and make their organization stronger. They never will, and the return would have to be exorbitant in order for them to do so, but for a team with a weak farm system and a roster of aging players with bad contracts, they could completely overhaul their talent pipeline in one fell swoop.

Profar is much farther away from untouchable than Mike Trout. The Rangers have a shortstop and second baseman of All-Star quality signed to long-term contracts and a farm system with more middle infielders (Luis Sardinas and Rougned Odor, principally) who look like big league quality talent. Profar’s major league readiness has arrived at a time when the Rangers don’t have an open spot for him, and at least one position shift by a prominent player would need to be made in order to find everyday playing time for the preseason #1 overall prospect in baseball.

The simplest solution, then, is to trade Jurickson Profar this offseason. He’s not going back to the minors next year, and he is not a part of the glue of the team like Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler are. It makes the most sense to move Profar. I say that’s not going to happen.

The biggest obstacle to trading Profar isn’t a new one. The issue is that for a trade to be made, it has to make sense for both sides of the deal. There are lots of teams that would want a player like Profar on their team. He’s a 20-year old shortstop with the kind of makeup that can lead the core of a team for years and years to come. There are significantly fewer teams who have players that are a worthy return for Profar.

The first name that comes to mind when discussing trading Profar is Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton has been on the public opinion trade block for the past year or so, ever since it became clear that Miami would not be a winning ball club for some time. He possesses the kind of elite talent that the Rangers would look for in a Profar trade. He even plays a position that the Rangers have a need for after this season.

But there are also reasons why a Stanton-Profar trade won’t happen, too, which I believe outweigh the pros of the deal.

Profar won’t be a free agent until after the 2019 season. That means that after this season, his team will still have two years of paying Profar the league minimum, and four years of arbitration eligibility due to him hitting Super Two status. That means control, and it means cost control. This day in age, it also means an extended exclusive negotiating window for completing a long-term extension.

Profar hasn’t lit the world on fire in his 2013 campaign, but for a 20-year old without consistent playing time, he has performed admirably. As he continues to acclimate to the big league level and finds an everyday role, there is no reason to believe that Profar will be anything less than what he has always been projected to be. To get that kind of production from a premium position for six relatively cheap years is extremely valuable. This becomes especially true as the trending market is moving further away from available talent in free agency, and a premium is placed on building from within.

Those six years of Profar are more valuable than the three years of arbitration eligibility that Stanton will have remaining after this season.

Additionally, Stanton is a 23-year old who has only been able to stay healthy for one full season of the three and a half he has played at the big league level. He has had a knee surgery, a strained quadriceps, and a strained hamstring. Rangers fans are accustomed to Nelson Cruz and his issues as a big-bodied right fielder keeping his legs healthy. It’s hard to feel confident about Stanton’s ability to stay healthy in the future.

Stanton is elite, and his power is jaw-dropping, but he isn’t an acquire-at-all-costs unicorn.

It’s also entirely possible that Miami doesn’t trade Stanton at all. They reportedly turned down a significant package of prospects from Pittsburgh this July. Considering Stanton’s value may never be higher as the countdown to free agency continues, if the Marlins didn’t trade him now, when would they? With the rise of more young talent around Stanton (Jose Fernandez, Jacob Turner, and Marcell Ozuna), Miami may believe they can compete within the next three years, and keep their cornerstone slugger.

David Price is another name that will come up in these discussions, as his increasing cost to Tampa Bay may motivate them to move the Ace left-hander this offseason. But Price is only arbitration eligible for two more seasons, and after making more than $10 million in 2013, those won’t be two cheap years.

Similar arguments could be made about the other names that may be rumored to be targets for the Rangers that would require a Profar trade, but in the end, it all comes down to those years of control. It is key for the Rangers, or any club, to get significant production from their young, inexpensive players, in order to remain competitive without spending like the Dodgers, and even the Dodgers have needed that same kind of contribution from Yasiel Puig this year.

This goes the other way, too. The Rangers would love to trade Jurickson Profar for Mike Trout, or Bryce Harper, or Manny Machado, but those teams aren’t going to part with those players.

The point is that even though it is clear on paper that the Rangers should trade Profar, that doesn’t mean the Rangers should accept 80 cents on the dollar in a deal. If the Rangers were to trade Profar, it would have to be worth it. Looking at the value of Profar, and what may be available in the marketplace, there isn’t anything that matches up.

There is no magic bullet to be acquired that gives assurance of a World Series trophy. All that Texas can do is field the best team that it can for the greatest period of sustained success that it can. The Rangers have shown since the start of the 2010 season that they are on the short list of teams that do so better than anyone.

Perhaps Profar is simply the kind of player that a team makes room for. Ian Kinsler didn’t want to change positions in the first year of his long-term contract, but perhaps he is open to doing so in the second year. Or, after his rebound year in 2013, maybe the Rangers find they can maximize Kinsler’s value by trading him in the offseason. Either of those seems far more plausible than a Profar deal.

The lack of a legitimate deal that aligns the interests of the Rangers and a potential trade partner make Jurickson Profar untradeable.

It’s a good problem to have for the Rangers and their fans. The saying goes that these kinds of things tend to work themselves out. We thought it would work itself out when Andrus left the team in free agency before he signed a long-term extension. That changed the game, so we’re just waiting to see how it’s going to work itself out now. 

Peter Ellwood is a Senior Staff Writer for Shutdown Inning. You can email him at Peter.Ellwood@shutdowninning.com or reach him on Twitter @FutureGM
Peter Ellwood

Leave a Reply