LAS VEGAS — The pursuit of Manny Machado is one of the marquee stories of MLB’s winter meetings, and the Rangers won’t be among the pursuers.
That said, it could still be of interest to them.
While Machado is the prize for teams seeking somebody for the left side of the infield, the Rangers may have a much cheaper model available for merely the price of a couple of pitching prospects: Jurickson Profar. The New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies and Milwaukee Brewers all could be potential landing spots for Machado. Or Profar.
With Profar heading toward free agency after the 2020 season and the Rangers rebuilding, the timing may be right to maximize his value and trade him for prospects who could help re-calibrate the minor league system, allowing for the Rangers to have more options for maximum time together when they do have another window.
“Jurickson is in the process of realizing his potential,” general manager Jon Daniels said. “From the point he started playing every day last year, he was really good. I think we are in a position where we are looking at everything from the lens of both what’s good for us now and what’s good for the long-term, but we are probably looking a little heavier at the long-term right now.
“We are not looking to move guys like [Profar],” Daniels added. “But we’re open to everything.”
Profar, outfielder Nomar Mazara, reliever Alex Claudio and outfielder Delino DeShields all are in the arbitration cycle, with Profar the closest to free agency. Profar is likely to jump from $1.05 million in 2018 to the $3 million range. That’s about 10 percent of what Machado — who, like Profar, will play at 26 next year — will make in 2019. Machado is seeking a contract of 10 years; the commitment to Profar would only be two.
The Rangers were thrilled with Profar’s progress in 2018. He became the team’s primary third baseman because of injuries to Adrian Beltre. He finished the season with a slash line of .254/.335/.458/.793 but hit .264/.348/.478/.826 over the final four months of the season.
Among the 17 shortstops/third basemen who began the offseason as free agents, only four players — Machado, Eduardo Escobar, Jose Iglesias and Mike Moustakas — had higher WARs than Profar’s 2.0 figure. Escobar has already re-signed with Arizona.
The Rangers must weigh his value to other teams with his value to a 2019 team that probably isn’t going anywhere. It could allow them to get prospects who could be more in line with the team’s more realistic timeline of returning to contention.
“Lining things up is a lot of the challenge,” Daniels said. “But timing doesn’t always go the way you want it to. Some guys come quicker; some guys come slower; guys get hurt. There is no career path that is easy to predict from A to B.”
As the Rangers try to get from Point A, as in also-ran, to Point B, as in back to contending, the value of Profar may just be a valuable asset to them this winter.
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