The Ever-Present Unknown

It's been a quiet offseason. Too quiet, almost. Then again, it's about what we expected to this point.

Other than the acquisition of Ross Detwiler and Kyuji Fujikawa, there haven't been any major additions to the organization that would merit more than a passing interest from even the most die-hard observers of Texas baseball. And really, that mostly falls in line with what many have been saying all along: The Rangers are planning on getting better in 2015 simply by virtue of getting healthier. After all, surely a historic rash of injuries can't strike twice... can it?

So it's with that in mind that I've been keeping a close eye this offseason on the status of Jurickson Profar. He's the one guy returning from injury that remains an absolute unknown. He was supposed to man 2nd base last season, but never managed to get on the field.

We could probably go back and forth all day on the merits behind Profar being ready to go out of Spring Training on the Major League club, or for him starting the season at Triple-A Round Rock in order to make up for missing an entire season. Both sides have their merits, but I'm not sure either one really considers one thing: We still don't even know how Profar's arm will respond once he begins throwing.

In March, when we first learned that he would miss the first half of the 2014 season, the prevailing sentiment coming out of the front office was that rest, and nothing more, is all that would be required for Profar to be healthy. To my best recollection -- and because I'm feeling exceptionally lazy at the moment and I haven't looked -- the thought of surgery was quickly brushed off as unnecessary.

When he suffered setback after setback, that sentiment began to fade a bit. Then on December 11, Evan Grant posited that another setback would indeed, as some of us have feared for awhile, require surgical repair.

As a warning, the rest of this is going to contain a lot of spitballing on my part, as I'm still trying to really wrap my head around what to expect, health-wise, from the former top-prospect moving forward.

On Friday, Calvin Watkins had a piece up over on ESPN in which he talked about Profar's attempt to get healthy. In it, among many other thoughts regarding the middle infield in Texas moving forward, was one snippet that caught my attention more than any other regarding Profar's prognosis.

A doctor said surgery would help solve the problem quicker than lifting weights and doing flexibility training.

Now, I don't know who Calvin's source is on this one. I don't know if this is just a random doctor that he has spoken to, or if he's referring to one of the doctors from which Profar has received a medical opinion regarding his shoulder. If it's the former, it would certainly be less worrisome, at least to me.

However, if it is indeed the latter, and Profar has been advised that the problem would be solved quicker by surgical intervention, I feel comfortable extrapolating a few things.

  1. We know that surgical intervention would put Profar out for yet another season. Losing two full seasons for a position player would be extremely difficult to return from. Not everyone has Josh Hamilton's prodigious power and swing to fall back on.
  2. Assuming that surgery would solve the problem quicker and also keep him out for another season, the timetable for a full recovery with lifting weights and flexibility training would, by the estimation of this doctor, take a longer period than the missed season. While perhaps it doesn't mean he couldn't play at all, it brings into question one other thing.
  3. There could be an inherent risk that, with any one throw, Jurickson Profar could find himself with another setback, at least until such time that his shoulder is strong enough, healed enough, and flexible enough to handle the rigors of throwing a baseball every day, as a job.

Like I said, a lot of spitballing. Nonetheless, these are probably some of the same things the front office has kept in mind while considering shopping their other infielders on the market this offseason. Certainly if Profar were healthy and a known quantity, making the decision to ship someone off for pitching help or a corner outfielder becomes much easier, but that isn't the position the Rangers find themselves in right now.

There's certainly an argument to be made that, for the right deal, trading Elvis Andrus and rolling with Luis Sardinas at SS might be a move worth making if it nets a surplus of wins from another position of need and Sardinas doesn't prove to be a drastic downgrade from Andrus at the position. With that said, the notion that Jurickson Profar can simply step in and fill the spot isn't something I am any longer willing to consider.

Profar injured his shoulder in March during a time in which he was intended to be the team's 2nd baseman for 2014. With his health even more in question now than ever, I just can't imagine gambling on him handling the added stress that throwing from SS would put on his already-fragile shoulder.

There may come a time in which it is determined that Profar's shoulder is just as healthy as any other guy. Until that time, however, he remains an unknown, both from production and health standpoints. The idea of a blockbuster trade is fun to imagine, and sometimes, even more fun when one actualizes. Then again, the more I think about it, the more I feel like Jurickson Profar, Elvis Andrus, and Rougned Odor will all be with the organization when the 2015 season begins. It just makes too much sense at this point.