Last season, I didn’t believe the Texas Rangers would win the AL West. They did. This season, I didn’t believe the Texas Rangers would be all that competitive. They have been, but the injury bug isn’t having it.
36-year-old Colby Lewis, along with Derek Holland, find themselves on the disabled list. Cole Hamels is great, as is Yu Darvish, and having two aces in the rotation is quite the luxury, but Darvish staying healthy is nowhere near a certainty. Even with a healthy Darvish, Texas’ rotation is desperately thin right now. So desperate and thin, in fact, that they recently turned to Kyle Lohse to make a start. Kyle. Lohse.
Additionally, their team ERA of 4.51 ranks them 24th in the league. Their batting average against (.265) places them 21st. That’s not ideal for a playoff team, let alone division leader. Offensively, they’re in the Top 10 in runs scored and batting average, just outside the Top 10 in slugging percentage and OPS, and middle of the pack in terms of OBP. Offense isn’t the problem. Or it wasn’t just a couple days ago, at least. Unfortunately, they aren’t just plagued by injuries to their rotation.
Prince Fielder, who missed only 13 games over his first five full seasonsa��and played in all 162 in four of five from 2009 through 2013a��is out again. This time, he may require neck surgery. Shin-Soo Choo is on the disabled list yet again. Which brings us to the central issue: the Rangers need pitching; the Rangers suddenly need a battera��at least one. Can they afford to give up the latter for the former?
Putting potential targets aside, let’s talk about the assets they have: Jurickson Profar and Joey Gallo. If Texas had to trade one or the other, which would make more sense? Which would bring in a better player in return?
Currently, I believe Profar is less valuable overall than Gallo, but it’s close. If his shoulder injuries are truly over and done with, that’s fantastic news. Profar is still just 23 years old and can play all over the infielda��though he wants to be an everyday shortstop. That’s his sticking point, and it doesn’t appear he’s willing to settle for less after this season. Not a second baseman; not a utility man. Right now, though, that shortstop role belongs to the 27-year-old Elvis Andrus. Not only is he having an excellent season (.293/.347/.417 in 347 plate appearances), he is also under contract through at least 2022. He’s not moving anytime soon.
Profar, a Top 10 prospect in 2012 and No. 1 across the board in 2013, is finally healthy and hitting his stridea��slashing .304/.351/.435, albeit over a very small sample (148 plate appearances). There’s every chance these numbersa��or those very similar to ita��could hold up for years to come, of course. It helps that his track record across the minor leagues was rock solid.
If you’re Texas, ideally you’re not letting Profar go for a a�?middle of the rotationa�? type of arma��Tampa Bay’s Drew Smyly comes to mind. Smyly would be far too little for Profar. But would Jake Odorizzi, despite his struggles this season, be enough to get a conversation started? Aside from pitching help, Milwaukee still has yet to move catcher Jonathan Lucroy. And you’d imagine the potential return would have to include either Profar or Joey Gallo.
Here’s the thing with Gallo: he’s extremely powerful, arguably the most powerful prospect in all of baseball. Maybe, just maybe, the most powerful prospect we’ve ever seen. He does strike out a ton (46.3 percent of his 123 ML plate appearances last season, 30.2 percent at AAA this season) but that’s not at all worrisome if he continues getting on base as often as he currently is (at a clip of just under .390 at AAA). Plus, Gallo is walking more and striking out less this time around. His walk rate at AAA is nearly 7 percent greater than it was last season with an additional 50 PAs to his name, while his strikeout rate has dropped just over 9 percent.
Gallo was a Top 10 prospect entering the season, and getting back to the Brewers for just a second, they don’t have a permanent fixture at third base at the moment. Getting back to Galloa��he’s hit 16 home runs at Round Rock this year, and in general has been very effective against minor league arms. In a very small sample with the Rangers last season, Gallo flashed power but struggled mightily overalla��slashing .204/.301/.417 with six home runs and 57 strikeouts in 123 plate appearances. That’s barely more than a cup of coffee, so to speak. Let’s say he got to add cream and sugar.
Then there’s Texas’ third base situation to consider. AdriA?n BeltrA� is under contract through 2018; is Gallo going to wait until 2019 to be an every day player? On the other hand, with Fielder out indefinitely, Gallo’s power would be ideal for a DH role until BeltrA� retires. Finally, imagine if Gallo’s contact improves. Suddenly, Texas’ need for Gallo has increased. On paper, anyway. That could mean one of a couple different things: the asking price for Gallo just went up, or he truly is untouchable.
In regards to Profar, as noted, he doesn’t want to play second base. If they moved on from Rougned Odor (they won’t), would Andrus? Unlikely, as he just has one game at the position (when he was 16) between the minors and majors combined. Whether it’s Profar or Gallo being dealt, Texas would receive a good/great player in return. Whether it’s Profar or Gallo being dealt, Texas is shipping out a potential superstar. But if they had to move one of them, moving Profar would be the smarter option. He might just be the odd man out.