I had written my column Wednesday about how the Texas Rangers had a surplus of middle infielders and that they could use this depth to acquire an impact player. There wouldn't be enough room for Elvis Andrus, Jurickson Profar and Ian Kinsler to only occupy two spots.
Sure, Kinsler could play a little first base and certainly DH, but instead, the Rangers used a position of strength to acquire a player with plenty of strength.
Texas agreed to trade to Kinsler to the Detroit Tigers for Prince Fielder, meaning that my column needed a bit of updating. The Tigers will pay $30 million of Fielder’s remaining salary of the next seven seasons.
So with the trade, the logjam in the Rangers’ middle infield seems to be solved. Andrus will remain at shortstop, and Profar will slide nicely into second base, right?
Well, just because the Rangers brought in Fielder doesn’t mean they’re done dealing. In fact, the Rangers are said to have heavy interest in Robinson Cano.
But wait, wouldn’t that just further add to the traffic jam at middle infield that the Fielder trade just solved?
Naturally, if the Rangers make a play for Cano, they’d have to trade one of Andrus or Profar. It would likely be Andrus, since the team would surely need to move his huge contract. Andrus signed an eight-year, $120 million deal early last season.
If Texas can pull this off, that would be some infield: Fielder, Cano, Profar and Adrian Beltre.
Meanwhile, the Rangers still have to fill some holes even after the trade for Fielder. Back when the Rangers had dominant teams of the mid-1990s, those teams were made up of all hitting and no pitching. But lately, the Rangers have had decent pitching staffs and appear set heading into next season.
Yu Darvish, Derek Holland, Alexi Ogando, Martin Perez and Matt Harrison (returning from back surgery) should form the starting five. The team also has Nick Tepesch and Robbie Ross waiting in the wings. Neftali Feliz is also an option as he continues his recovery from Tommy John surgery.
So the pitching staff looks good. But catcher and at least one of the corner outfield spots would need to be filled.
The Rangers are rumored to be interested in Brian McCann and one of Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, Curtis Granderson or Shin-Soo Choo, which would certainly fill those needs. However, if the Rangers sign Cano, it would likely preclude the team from bringing in one of these free agents.
That’s where trading Andrus would come into play. The Rangers would free up the necessary money to sign Cano and address one of their areas of need without having to sign another free agent.
The Mets and Cardinals both are seeking a shortstop, but both teams have a surplus of pitching and not much desirable hitting to trade. It’s unlikely the Rangers would move one of these players just to acquire pitching insurance, which they pretty much already have with Tepesch and Ross.
Even if the teams scraps the idea of signing Cano, an infield of Fielder, Profar, Andrus and Beltre would still be one of the best in the game. Profar still needs to prove himself, but the only way to do that is for him to play every day. He’ll now get that chance with Kinsler suiting up for Detroit.
Whether it be a Cano signing coupled with an Andrus trade or signing a high-profile free agent like McCann or Ellsbury, the Rangers are far from done dealing this offseason.
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