Is Fielder Acquisition Just The Beginning For Rangers?
ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – No one expected the Texas Rangers to acquire Prince Fielder this offseason. So when General Manager Jon Daniels says there are still moves to be made, it’s smart to listen.
“We’d still like to add to the offense,” said Daniels Wednesday night. “I think that’s still our top objective. We’re open to any way we can improve the team.”
By acquiring Fielder and trading second baseman Ian Kinsler, Texas seemingly solved a number of questions in the Texas infield.
For one, Kinsler’s departure clears up the logjam in the middle infield.
20-year-old Jurickson Profar is the natural choice to slide in at second, but Daniels isn’t willing to hand him the job without a fight.
“We certainly like his potential and what he brings to the table,” said Daniels. “He’s the guy we would like to see claim the job, but he’s going to have to do that. We may bring in some competition for him — guys to push him.”
In his rookie season, Profar started games at second base (29), third base (10), shortstop (16), left field (4), and at designated hitter (16) — hitting .234 with six homeruns and 26 walks.
The move for Fielder also brings a clear resolution to the first base position, according to Daniels.
“Prince is going to be our regular first baseman. Wash, as he chooses to do, will give him time at DH here and there. We view Prince as our first baseman.”
Fielder’s arrival brings into question the status of Mitch Moreland, who started 128 games at first base for Texas in 2013. In 442 games over four seasons with Texas, the 28-year-old left hander has collected 63 homeruns while hitting .253.
“I think when you look at his ability to play first, the outfield and DH and how he’s performed in the early part of his career against big league pitching — I think the industry is looking for power; we’re looking for power. And we’re not giving up on the guy,” said Daniels.
Daniels says that manager Ron Washington and assistant GM Thad Levine have discussed the landscape with Moreland, though his future role has yet to be determined.
So where might Daniels look to improve the club?
Many have speculated that the team is a darkhorse to sign free agent second baseman Robinson Cano, which would likely require trading either Profar or shortstop Elvis Andrus. But the move would require a willing trade partner — and a substantial financial commitment.
Reports suggest that Cano and his agents are seeking a long-term deal worth in excess of $300 million.
Catchers Brian McCann and Mike Napoli, as well as outfielders Carlos Beltran, Shin-Soo Choo, and Nelson Cruz, also remain possibilities on the market.
Daniels alluded this offseason to the team’s $125 million payroll for 2014, but will they hold to it?
“The reason we were able to do this: one, you have to have an ownership group willing to take on salary and a commitment,” said Daniels. “Our ownership has done it time and again.”
Predicting the Rangers offseason has proven to be a futile exercise. No one predicted the Prince Fielder deal; no one expected Kinsler to depart.
And if Daniels is right, Texas might not be done, and the offseason might still hold plenty of surprises.
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