Earlier today the Texas Rangers inked free agent first basemen/designated hitter and Texas native Lance Berkman to a one year $11 million deal with a vesting option if he reaches 550 plate appearances. Berkman will assume the role as full-time DH and may occasionally play first base during interleague games or when the occasional lefty starts. (We’ll discuss this later) Is this a good fit for Texas or not? Let me know what you think at the end of the article.
Every Rangers fan seems to be conflicted by this move and argue why it’s a great move or why it’s a terrible move. There are so many different scenarios that could happen now that this signing has taken place. Many bloggers/insiders/sources think that this move is setting up an even bigger move. I would have to agree with that. But who is leaving? Someone has to either be demoted or traded because the Rangers 40 man roster is full. It will likely be someone being taken off the 40 man and then someone will probably be traded. Let’s take a minute or ten to review all the scenarios that could happen with Berkman landing in Texas.
Mike Olt is the centerpiece for a Justin Upton Trade
Let’s face it; Mike Olt is the odd man out here. He’s been the odd man out since Adrian Beltre was signed. He’s a corner infielder/outfielder with good power the MVP type potential but there’s just nowhere to play him. He’s not playing third base and the only way he plays first base is if Moreland is gone and I don’t see that happening. If prospect Joey Gallo lives up to expectations and matures on time, he will presumably take over for Beltre once Beltre’s contract expires in 2015. There is no reason to waste Olt while he is in his prime, so it makes sense to move him and that’s why I believe he will be the centerpiece in an attempt to get outfielder Justin Upton from Arizona.
Jurickson Profar starts the year at AAA or wastes a year of control
The number one prospect in all of baseball SS/2B Jurickson Profar has been heavily rumored to be starting the year with the Rangers at some capacity. The most heated rumor was that he would move over from his customary SS spot to play second base and current second basemen Ian Kinsler would slide over and man first base. Doing that though would leave Mitch Moreland out to dry and I honestly don’t think Ron Washington or Jon Daniels is ready to give up on Moreland just yet. Moreland could be packaged with Olt if they were to move him which would clear the way for Profar, however, I just don’t see that happening.
If Moreland were to stay in Texas like I assume he will, Profar will suffer at some capacity. If the Rangers kept him at the big league level, they would essentially be wasting a year of control on him because he would play sparingly off the bench and an occasional start against lefties when Moreland would sit and Kinsler would slide to first base. But why even do that? That to me makes no sense to have Profar play part time and Kinsler to play part time first base. I say either move Kinsler and Profar, or don’t do it at all. Now if Moreland gets traded, this scenario could very well be moot because Profar could start every day at second base. I say could because there is still no guarantee that he even starts the year at the big league level and could still play at AAA all year. After all, he is only 19.
The Elvis Andrus conundrum
What to do with Elvis Andrus is the big question. As the Rangers sit RIGHT NOW, I don’t like the Berkman signing. Why? Because that is $10 million that could have been allocated towards a long term extension for Andrus. If Moreland is traded, Kinsler moves to first base and Profar moves to second base then you HAVE to re-sign Elvis for the long term. It does not make sense or help Kinsler or Profar to move positions for a year or two only to have them move back to their original positions once Elvis leaves as a free agent or gets traded because he can’t be re-signed. If there is any inclination that you cannot re-sign Andrus, then move him now. It pains me to say that but makes the most sense. He would bring a huge return. Package him with a couple of prospects to Tampa Bay for David Price.
If you sign Andrus to a long term extension than it almost guarantees that Profar will spend most of the year at AAA Round Rock. I’m ok with that and I’m not. He’s 19; it makes sense to leave him down there a year. I want the kid here though! Andrus and Profar could easily be the most formidable double play duo in the majors for many years to come.
We’ve discussed most of the scenarios involving Moreland already so I will keep this one short. I believe that the Rangers will keep Moreland for one reason. He is there only true bon a fide first basemen. Are you ready to go through the entire season without a true first basemen? What if Kinsler gets hurt and misses significant time? Berkman is not an everyday first basemen even for a short amount of time anymore. Is Ian Kinsler a good enough athlete to learn first base and play there an entire season and be equal to the same production offensively and defensively as Moreland? If the Rangers think that Kinsler can be that guy, then by all means, package Moreland and Olt to Arizona for Justin Upton, at least use that as a start. I think that Moreland stays in Texas though because of a lack of depth at the position.
So you see, it’s entirely too early to really tell whether or not this was a good deal by Texas. We really won’t know how this turns out until spring training. My prediction is that Moreland will be used off the bench, Kinsler starts at first base and Profar at second base. Mike Olt is the centerpiece for a deal that brings back Justin Upton which would slide Nelson Cruz over to left field and regulate David Murphy back to the bench as the fourth outfielder or traded. Leonys Martin and Craig Gentry will platoon centerfield for the time being. Who knows, Cruz could be traded as well leaving Murphy as a full time left fielder, we all know he’s earned it.
What do YOU think? I’d love to hear your scenarios and/or predictions.