Derek Jeter has been for this generation of Yankee fans what Mickey Mantle and other Yankee greats have been for past generations, the face of the team. While unlike the case with Mickey Mantle, a person could argue whether or not Jeter was generally the best player on the Yankees during his era, no one could argue with his popularity among the fans. It seems like he has always been on the Yankees and it is hard to imagine the Yankees without him. I know things will just not feel right when he is gone. However, like all greats, Jeter's time on the Yankees is nearing the end. Whether he exercises his option, works some other deal out, etc., his time is close to over. Though I am not sure if Jeter realizes the same, the Yankees still have the task of trying to find Derek Jeter's replacement.
Replacing Derek Jeter is no easy task. Not only do the Yankees have to fill a position but they have to replace arguably the most popular Yankee ever. However, in reality, the Yankees cannot think of the task at hand as replacing Derek Jeter so much as finding a good answer to the Yankees need at shortstop. (The next Mr. Yankee is currently unclear if even on the team yet. Robinson Cano looks like the best option at the moment but then again, he faces free agency following the season and could leave, but even if he stays, his lack of hustle has already hurt his fan value.) Unfortunately, the Yankees cultivation of the shortstop position in the minors is behind probably any other position on the Yankees. Guys like CJ Henry, Cito Culver, etc., all came to the Yankees farm with some measure of hype, only to have fallen flat. While some guys like Culver are still around, clearly they are just minor league fillers. Because of the same, there is not a single shortstop candidate above low A Ball right now who has any discernible expectations. There are some interesting candidates in the different lower levels of A Ball as well as the Dominican League teams, but no one who is polished enough to even be considered a prospect at this juncture.
Based on the above, the reality is that the Yankees have two options; find a plug in to hold the position in the hope that one of the raw options becomes something, or acquire a major league ready answer. Obviously, the former is easier. However, on an aging, declining team, is anyone really excited about the next Luis Cruz or Alberto Gonzalez? As such, a real answer would seem to make sense. More importantly, it would make a lot of Yankee fans feel better about the team. An acquisition with upside would be a refreshing change. Nonetheless, to do so, will cost prospects. That being the case, why not go big? How about Jurickson Profar.
I know, a lot of people now think I am crazy. The guy was nearly untouchable before the season started whereby the Rangers would not trade Profar to get Justin Upton, which by the way looks quite intelligent at the moment. Yet, a lot has changed over the course of the season. Specifically, there is no position for Profar largely thanks to the ridiculous extension given to Elvis Andrus. Specifically, for all intents and purposes, the following Rangers are now locked up for @$15m a year or more for most likely the next three (3) years or more: Adrian Beltre (through 2015 but with a reachable option for 2016); Ian Kinsler (through 2017 plus an expensive buyout for 2018); Elvis Andrus (through at least 2022). That means that the Rangers have the entire middle to their left side of their infield for no less than 3 years and the positions of second base and shortstop for at least the next 5 years. So what do the Rangers do with Profar? Yes they could move him to another position but then again, why would a team want to move a pure shortstop to the outfield or first base? Could they do that just to have his bat? Maybe. However, notably, the Rangers farm system is not what it was a year ago. The Rangers have 3 prospects that are considered among the top 100. Of those prospects, two are middle infielders while the other is a catcher. The next tier of guys is considered far behind those guys. Further, the Rangers may not get Nelson Cruz back as he is not only suspended but is a free agent to be, while Alex Rios is likely done with the Rangers after 2014, leaving Leonys Martin to be the last man standing in the outfield. Meanwhile, the Rangers' rotation looks solid though without any reinforcements should injuries arise, and they always do.
So how can the Yankees induce the Rangers into dealing Profar to them? Not easily I am sure but it does seem more possible than it was a year ago. To elaborate, while I like many, am leery of the Yankees upper prospects, that does not mean there is not enough in the arsenal to force the Rangers to deal. Notably, the Yankees have a number of outfield prospects, three of whom have been in or around the top 100. While I would like to see these guys turn into something special, the good money says that the odds favor Profar being special more than it does the likes of Tyler Austin, Mason Williams and Slade Heathcott. Yet, Profar is still an unaccomplished guy whose value is mitigated to a degree by the same. Further, we all know the Yankees are never going to field three prospects all within a year of each other in the same outfield. Accordingly, a trade of two of those three OF prospects along with a pitching prospect like maybe Jose Ramirez, and maybe a decent reliever like Daniel Burawa could land the Yankees Profar. The Rangers get possible future outfield help, and some backup pitching. The Yankees get their shortstop of the present and future. (While I like Javier Baez, Chris Owings, et al., there are spots in the lineup for these guys and/or no urgency to find a spot yet.)
Do you think the Yankees could get Profar and, if yes, should they? Do you think you have a better option for shortstop?