Saturday, April 13, 2013

Oscar Taveras for Jurickson Profar rumors persist. Does it make sense?

It seems like a day cannot go by without someone bringing up the possibility of a Oscar Taveras for Jurickson Profar trade.  The latest coming from former GM Jim Bowden on ESPN Insider (subscription required), who labels it as a "challenge" trade--one that could define the GM's careers.

Of the face of it, the trade seems to make sense.  Profar is generally consider the top prospect in baseball, but is blocked at the major league level by Elvis Andrus.  Taveras is considered the 3rd best prospect in baseball, but is blocked by a loaded Cardinals outfield.

The Cardinals need a long-term solution at short, where shortstop Pete Kozma has done admirably in his short tenure, but there is skepticism as to whether he can keep it up. On the other hand, the Rangers need a replacement for Nelson Cruz, who will be a free agent after this season. 

One concern for the Cardinals is that Carlos Beltran will be a free agent after this season and Taveras is seen as the heir apparent in right field.  But they have other options there as well, such as putting Matt Adams at first and shifting Allen Craig back to right field.

For Texas, the Rangers could move Profar to second and shift Ian Kinsler to first to make room for their talented prospect.  But that would still leave a hole in the outfield should Cruz walk.

So, a trade of Profar for Taveras makes perfect sense.  Except there's one problem:  Bowden thinks that Taveras is the better prospect and that the trade would be a win for the Rangers.

By all appearances, the Rangers are setting up Profar as trade bait.  They just signed Andrus to a 8-year, $120 million extension and despite this, they keep playing Profar at short.  Why would they do this if they do not intend to play him there at the major league level?  Simple answer, to make him more attractive to other teams.

In addition, many people, including Bowden, project Taveras to be a consistent .300 hitter with 20-30 HR power in the majors.  He has a career minor league line of .323/.382/.525.  While some scouts feel that Profar can develop into a .300 hitter with 30 HR power, he has yet to show it in the minors, with a career line of .276/.368/.447 in the minors and a season high of just 14 homers.

So, if I was Cardinals GM John Mozeliak and Rangers GM Jon Daniels called to offer me Profar for Taveras.  I politely tell him no and go about my business.

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