The Texas Rangers have some serious contract issues in the upcoming years. Depending on how five players currently in the minor leagues progress over the next two seasons stipulates how the Rangers go about signing some of their free agents.
– Engel Beltre (OF) is a relatively unknown commodity outside of Ranger fans. It was not very long ago though that he was one of the highest ranked minor league outfielders in the minors.
– Leonys Martin (OF) may be the closest player they have to making the major league roster in this top 5.
– Mike Olt (1B/3B) has been asked to learn first base as insurance to Mitch Moreland and to fast track his route to Arlington.
– Martin Perez (P) is the highest ranked pitching prospect on the farm.
– Jurickson Profar (SS/2B) may get some work in at 2B as insurance.
The Rangers acquired Engel Beltre (pronounced Angel) from the Red Sox in the Eric Gagne trade. He was seen as a CF early on but has since moved to the corner outfield spots. After some early discipline issues he seems to have matured to the point were he has begun progressing again in the ranks. If he can maintain his current ascent he will give the Rangers something to think about when Nelson Cruz hits the free agency market after the 2013 season.
The Cuban defector Leonys Martin may make Josh Hamilton expendable if he becomes a better hitter this season. He is already a +outfielder in the minors and can hit he just needs the experience that being an everyday player in the minors will afford him.
Mike Olt is a big man with big power. If Mitch Moreland falters at the plate again this season look for a change next season with Olt manning the position. Olt a third baseman by trade will likely never see Arlington as a third baseman because Adrian Beltre is there and he is signed for another 7 seasons so he likely wont be getting the call up there. With Joey Votto likely becoming a free agent at the end of the season this could work itself out that way as way.
Colby Lewis is in a contract season and could command around $7-8 million as a free agent. He will likely be overpaid because of his success in the playoffs but Martin Perez could be ready to break camp next season with the Rangers and he would make around $500,000. With the potential this guy has it could be worth a flyer to try and save some money to upgrade elsewhere.
Jurickson Profar likely wont be ready for the majors until the 2014 season but he is still only 19 right now. Would you rather have a 26 year old Andrus and 21 year old Profar or a 26 year old Andrus and a 32 year old Kinsler? The money Kinsler could command if he so desires could become astronomical. Yes, he is a great 2B but he is a career .275 hitter with good power (at times). He is also injured a lot. Is it worth signing a player leaving his prime with a history of injuries because of what he has done in the past?
This may anger a lot of Ranger fans because most of the players mentioned are very beloved by Ranger fans but all personal feelings need to be set aside and remember its a business.
The money probably wont make sense to keep all these players as they get older when the farm system is stacked with quality players.
I admit I like every one of these players and they are all very important to this organization this season but the players behind them are very solid and there may not be a drop off if they replace the current players.
-Brian Boynton (@rangerfanbrian)