This week Rangers President/GM Jon Daniels joined Evan Grant, Barry Horn and Kevin Sherrington to discuss the vague blueprint of the offseason, which included updates on Yu Darvish and Jurickson Profar.
I think we're looking at 14 months, which would put [Yu Darvish] middle to end of May. Could he beat that by a week or so? Could it be a week or two after that? Certainly, we're gonna be smart with him because we do think he's an impact piece.
Good news: Texas will roll into 2016 with a rotation led by Cole Hamels, Derek Holland and Martin Perez, and followed by a collection of depth likely fronted by free agent RHP Colby Lewis, Chi-Chi Gonzalez and Nick Martinez. If Daniels projects a mid-to-late May return for Darvish, the Rangers will be looking for 7-8 starts in his place.
I do think he can play other positions, but that's something we don't know 100 percent. I think also, his makeup, that (shortstop) is where he should play in the field. He has that internal clock. Do you want him with the ball in his hands in big spots. That was always his makeup, his reputation coming up through the system. He's one of these guys, you want the ball hit to him in big spots. Could he end up playing third base? Could he end up playing second base? Playing the outfield? Yes, he's athletic enough for all those things. First time back in the field after missing the better part of two years, we're gonna play it safe and have him focus on shortstop first.
Unless I'm mistaken, this is the first time Daniels has commented on which position Jurickson will play when he's in the field again. That means something.
Shortstop makes most sense, since it satisfies two gaping questions of Texas's near-immediate future: (1) Can Jurickson Profar physically handle SS on a regular basis and (2), if he can, of what use is Elvis Andrus to the organization?
For the last three years, during his unmistakeable regression, I've defended Andrus, and I'm not of the opinion that it's going to kill the Rangers if he is the club's shortstop for the next 4-5 years. In the back of my mind I generally always envisioned an Andrus/Profar middle infield. But then Rougned Odor happened.
Premature as it may seem, Daniels's comments do not suggest the club will be actively marketing Profar this winter. As the club commits him to play shortstop, they are hinting at a willingness to engage in the long game with MLB's former #1 prospect.
Through no fault of their own, Texas will have a glut of position player talent emerging from the farm system over the next 18 months. With Joey Gallo, Lewis Brinson, Nomar Mazara and Jurickson Profar each jockeying for starting gigs with the club by 2017, the likelihood of at least one of the team's major contracts getting moved before then -- including Andrus, Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo -- is overwhelming.
Should Jurickson be able to play his natural position without any further interference from his shoulder, then Andrus's future with the franchise sort of becomes a no-brainer. That isn't a guarantee, of course, but it's a decision the club will have to move on before long.