Texas Rangers and Keeping the Core Together

by Todd K | Posted on Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Elvis Andrus - 2011 World Series Game 7 - Texas Rangers v St Louis Cardinals

Image: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

 

By Jeff Johnson

Contributor

houstonhog@yahoo.com

 

It’s hard to remember the old days as a Texas Rangers fan when just getting to the post-season was the ultimate goal. General manager Jon Daniels, CEO Nolan Ryan, and company have now created a friendly monster that doesn’t seem to be leaving anytime soon.

We, as Ranger fans, have become spoiled with the recent success and most won’t be happy until a World Series title has been won. But the big question that the brains behind this organization I’m sure are asking is, how do we keep the core of this team intact and sustain long-term success?

“We’ve been very clear in expressing our desire to keep the core,” Assistant General Manager Thad Levine told ESPN Dallas’ Richard Durrett. “We’re cognizant that in the next 24 months the lion’s share of our offense could become free agents, not to mention part of our pitching staff. We want to understand the landscape as we try to sign that group.”

But, who makes up this core? A 30-year-old second baseman who some expert statistical analysts suggest has reached his peak, or is it an oft-injured MVP caliber outfielder?

All franchises, regardless of the sport, reach a crossroads with their beloved veterans. The Rangers are fast approaching that exact moment with many of their core players.

 

Kinsler Debate

Statistically speaking, second baseman Ian Kinsler had a great season in 2011 from the leadoff spot. But how much longer can we expect this type of production?

Kinsler finished the season hitting .255 with 32 home runs in 2011, more importantly maintained an on base percentage of .355 (his career average) and stole over 30 bases for the second time in the last three seasons. A positive sign considering he is nearing the magical age of 30.

But, as he turns that magical number this June, is Ian Kinsler’s future with the Ranger guaranteed? The Rangers hold a $10 million club option for 2013 and there is a growing debate within the fan base that he will not be worth that kind of money in 2013 and beyond.

 

Contract Demands

At the heart of the debate is what Ian Kinsler and his agent, Jay Franklin, will demand when it comes time to renegotiate a new contract. If he comes into the negotiating process looking to cash in and demand $10 million per year or more, the Rangers could let him walk away and will seek options at second base.

If Kinsler truly wants to be a Texas Ranger, and will consider signing an affordable contract (3-years with a club option for a fourth, perhaps), we could see the middle infield duo of Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler for a few more years.

All players earn the right to cash in on sustained success, and Kinsler is no different. But as he approaches 30 years of age and time begins to take over, the money has to be right for it to justify the aging stars long term potential.

 

Enter Profar

A great problem general manager Jon Daniels has as the architect behind this monster is the depth in the farm system. No Texas Rangers prospect gets more attention or media coverage than minor league shorstop Jurickson Profar.

At 19-years old, assuming he continues his development in the minors, we probably won’t see him in Arlington until the 2014 season at the earliest.

Question is, where does he play?

If the Rangers let Ian Kinsler go after the 2013 season, Profar can make the adjustment at second base for one year during and learn the craft from Elvis Andrus, who becomes a free agent after 2014.

It has long been rumored that Andrus will demand money the Rangers will not be interested in matching.

Combine the fact his agent is Scott Boras and that he plays a prime position, Andrus will likely sign a mega-contract when he hits free agency.

By allowing him to leave Texas, you open your everyday shortstop position to Profar starting in 2015 and beyond.

Assuming the Rangers re-sign Kinsler; the Rangers would have a 22-year-old Profar at short and a 33-year-old Kinsler at second base. Is that the ideal situation for Daniels and this organization?

 

The Solution

If I were King for a day (or general manager), I would pick up Kinsler’s $10 million club option for 2013 and keep him here one more season. After 2013 comes to a close, I shake his hand and thank him for his service as a Ranger and let him explore free agency.

In the meantime, I’m investing all of my resources into keeping Elvis Andrus and thus, keeping the core of the roster intact. He is a proven plus defender at shortstop and projects to develop more power and production at the plate. He’s young, dynamic, and those type of players aren’t easy to find.

When you do get one, like Derek Jeter for example, you hold onto him.

In 2015 and beyond, your middle infield combination is a young and extremely talented Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar.

This, Ranger fans, is your core. The core of this franchise is not Ian Kinsler, but rather Elvis Andrus.

The Rangers must find a way to keep him long-term if they want to continue to feed that friendly monster that has been created.

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