Jurickson Profar's name has been a hot topic since the youngster came up to take the place of Ian Kinsler and has played well. He had a huge solo home run in the eighth inning Sunday, giving the Rangers the lead in a tie game. He's been a huge spark for this club. Isn't it tough to imagine he's got to go back to the minors when Kinsler comes back? He's convinced me that he should stay, even in a utility role.
We talked on Friday's Fitzsimmons and Durrett Show (quick plug: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM) about whether Profar's value was actually increasing to the point where he was becoming untradeable. Honestly, I'm not sure anyone deserves that label. But it would have to be a special deal for me to include him in a trade, and the two names that might have made the most sense -- David Price and Giancarlo Stanton -- have dealt with injuries that may make it more likely they won't be available until the offseason. But stay tuned. At this point, I don't think Profar is going anywhere. And that's the right call.
The more immediate question is what the Rangers will do with Profar once Kinsler returns from the disabled list. Profar isn't making the decision easy right now, is he? He certainly looks like a guy ready to stay in the big leagues for good. Is there any way he could end up getting an extended stay in Arlington?
Before the season, I was in favor of the Rangers sending Profar down so he could get every day at-bats. After all, he hadn't even played in Triple-A until this year. But after a slow start, he figured out Triple-A pitching and has come up and been a terrific addition for this Rangers team. How can this club send him back to the minors after what he's done?
The biggest argument for shipping Profar back is playing time. If he stays as a utility infielder -- and it's not as if Leury Garcia hasn't done well in that role, by the way -- how often does he play? It certainly couldn't be every day. He plays the middle infield positions and not the outfield, so manager Ron Washington would be limited in how he could use him. But he could use the opportunity to sit Elvis Andrus and Kinsler to get them breaks and play Profar. He could put Lance Berkman at first base at times, slide others over for a half-day off their feet as the DH and insert Profar. It would mean Washington sitting Adrian Beltre here and there, something he understandably would be reluctant to do.
But let's say Profar plays four out of every 10 games or so. After what we've seen the last few weeks and even the past month in Triple-A, is that the worst thing for his development? He talked after Sunday's game about how much he's learning by simply being around big leaguers like Beltre and Andrus. That won't stop just because he isn't playing as much. Having Profar's youth and energy isn't a bad thing for the Rangers' vets, either. And for years we've talked about Washington not having all the pieces he would want or need on his bench. Having Profar there would be a boost. Plus, it would give Washington a great reason to rest more of his regulars, making sure they're fresh for the stretch run.
I say leave him here and do everything you can to get him at-bats as often as possible without altering the regular lineup. But there are other options. Let's take a look at a few (some more realistic than others):
Send him back to Triple-A, but tell him to play the outfield. The Rangers know Profar can play the middle infield positions. The rest of the league knows he's one of the top middle-infield prospects in the country. What no one is sure of is whether he can play the outfield. Why not find out now? Play him out there and have him learn on the job. How quickly could he pick it up? I don't know. But if he does, he could return and become a more versatile piece that could get more playing time in the big leagues, justifying a way to keep him here. Here's the other thing: What if Nelson Cruz gets suspended? It would be nice if Profar was in position to play out there. The other issue there is that you've already got a bunch of outfielders that Washington is trying to get out on the field.
Tell Kinsler to start adjusting to the outfield now. This is an extreme long shot, but I'll throw it out there. The Rangers are in contention and asking the second baseman to play a new position in the middle of the season isn't something contending teams do. But he has two more weeks at least until he gets back. What if he played outfield in some rehab games? I'd be curious to see how he'd do out there. He's athletic and I think he could do it, but that's probably something to be considered in the offseason. Kinsler expressed a reluctance to play the outfield before the season started and the club went along with it. But if they want him to play outfield at some point, I bet he does it and doesn't complain much. After all, he's seeing what Profar can do too.
Make a trade. I've heard from many of you who think the Rangers should trade Kinsler. I'm not in that camp. While you consider anything and everything as a front office, I don't see why this trio (Profar, Kinsler and Andrus) can't play together for a long time, starting next season, for sure. Kinsler has played well this season, and if you took his importance for granted, check out how average this offense has become with him out. He's got a good contract from a team perspective too. I'm keeping him.
And no, I don't think the Rangers should trade Profar to take care of this logjam. Again, it would have to be a special deal and I'm not sure I see that deal out there on July 31. This guy is special. He could be in the infield with Texas for the next decade or more. It's a challenge to find a way to get all three in this lineup. But instead of simply waiting until 2014 to do it, Profar is forcing the Rangers to try to find a way to do it now.
It's tough to imagine Profar back in the minors right now, isn't it? Why not leave him in the big leagues, even in a utility role, and have him continue to learn from those around him and provide a spark to this lineup? The Rangers still have a little bit of time to decide. But Profar is making a strong case to stay.