Editor's Note: We'll spend the next two weeks taking a look at 10 questions that face the Texas Rangers this offseason as they prepare for the 2013 campaign. We call it our "Texas Ten."
Today's question: Should the Rangers look at trading Elvis Andrus?
One thing we know about the Rangers' front office: They'll look at any and every opportunity to improve the club. Some teams might shut the door before it opens when discussing certain players. Not Texas. Jon Daniels and his staff will text, email and chat with just about any staff in baseball if it could lead to something.
So when it comes to tossing around ideas, isn't the notion that there might be a market for Andrus at least broached internally? On the surface, there are plenty of reasons to dismiss this and I'm not advocating making a trade. But like anything on this front, it depends on the deal.
Let's start with the contract. Andrus signed a three-year deal prior to the 2012 season that tied him up for his arbitration years. He'll make $4.8 million in 2013 and $6.475 million in 2014 before he can become a free agent. He has Scott Boras as his agent and I only bring that up because usually that means players will at least test the market. The reality is the Rangers have a good relationship with Boras and the last major client that signed here, at least two years into the deal, looks like a great one in Adrian Beltre.
But when making business decisions, you can't assume that you'll be paying whatever the market bears for Andrus. So exploring what he could net as a return could make some sense. What if you can get a starting pitcher for the rotation? What about an outfielder if Josh Hamilton doesn't return? To get something good on the trade market and avoid digging too deep into farm system, you have to give up something of value.
The other side to the equation is that you have to have a replacement. The Rangers do in Jurickson Profar, who is certainly no Andrus right now, but he's got a high ceiling and looks ready to do what Andrus did in 2009 -- play every day at a young age.
Even if the club decides Profar is ready to play now, it doesn't mean that Andrus has to be traded. When Ian Kinsler signed his contract extension before the 2012 season, he said he'd be willing to move positions at some point. What if he played in the outfield and Profar played second with Andrus still here?
Still, if Andrus could help net a frontline starter, I'm willing to listen. But like I said, the deal has to be a great one. Andrus hit .286 this season as the No. 2 hitter and had 62 RBIs. He was able to get bunts down to move over runners, is a dangerous baserunner (though he had just 21 stolen bases this year as opposed to 37 last year) and remains a solid fielder, making the left side of the infield a real strength. Texas is a contender and trading someone of Andrus' ability can't happen lightly. But exploring the options could open some doors.
What about Nelson Cruz? I bring him up because 2013 is the final year of his contract. Perhaps if Andrus isn't traded, that makes a Cruz deal more likely. If Kinsler moves to the outfield and the club finds a CF (whether that's Hamilton or a replacement), could Cruz net something on the trade front. He's not as valuable a chip as Andrus, but he's making $11 million in 2013 before he becomes a free agent.
Cruz has put up some monster numbers in his career. But he's dealt with injuries and inconsistencies. He had 24 homers and 90 RBIs in 2012 and played a career-high 159 games. But he hit .260, tied for his lowest average in a full season in his career, and he didn't have the red-hot streaks we've seen. Yet he was still a run producer. I think the up-and-down 2012 season means the Rangers keep him because I don't think they'd get good value for him. But he's another one of those names with an expiring contract that will come due before 2014.
While we're at it, how about Kinsler? He's got a long-term contract, but if considering trading Andrus is on the table, why not Kinsler? I think this one isn't as likely because of the contract and the fact that Andrus is up in two years, which would leave some holes. But the name that most fans keep bringing up in Andrus.
So do you consider trading Andrus? What would it take in return for it to be worth it?