As most teams whittle down their rosters in preparation for opening day, the Texas Rangers were dealt a last-minute curveball. Rangers’ starting second baseman Jurickson Profar will miss 10-12 weeks after suffering a slight muscle tear in his right shoulder, according to U-T San Diego’s Dennis Lin.
Even though the Rangers prefer to tap someone internally to take Profar’s place, per Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Jeff Wilson, such a decision would either involve starting non-roster invitee Kensuke Tanaka or rushing 20-year-old prospect Rougned Odor.
Instead, general manager Jon Daniels could do what he’s done so many times before: make a “win-now” trade. And New York Mets’ second baseman Daniel Murphy would be a perfect fit.
Murphy enjoyed a productive season for the Mets in 2013. The 28-year-old posted a .286 batting average, park-adjusted 108 OPS+, 13 home runs and 23 stolen bases over 697 plate appearances. While the left-handed hitter only walked at a 4.5 percent clip and gloved a minus-13 DRS, Murphy’s season was still worth 1.8 bWAR.
Unlike Daniels’ more typical “win-now” maneuvers, however, Murphy will still be under team control through 2015 and won’t become a free agent until 2016. And when Profar returns from injury, the Rangers can simply bump Mitch Moreland from his designated hitter duties and reap the benefits of not using Murphy in the field.
The Rangers also match-up well with the Mets in terms of their organization needs: young outfielders and infielders. Odor, who is the Rangers’ top prospect, would obviously be off the table—but perhaps outfielder Michael Choice could be for the taking.
Choice, 24, was acquired from the Oakland Athletics this offseason in exchange for Craig Gentry and Josh Lindblom. The right-handed batter hit to the tune of a .302 batting average, 11.5 percent walk rate, .835 OPS and 14 home runs at Triple-A in 2013. Per SB Nation’s John Sickels, Choice doesn’t have “much left to prove [and] just needs the opportunity to play.” Yet, with Shin-Soo Choo and Alex Rios manning the corner outfield slots, Choice will—at best—be a platoon partner with Moreland this season.
Nick Williams spent 2013 at Single-A, posting a .293 batting average, .879 OPS, 17 home runs and eight stolen bases over 404 plate appearances. SB Nation’s John Sickels tabbed Williams’ skills as “marvelous,” but also “overaggressive.” Regardless, if the Mets added the Texas native to their organization, he would instantly become the team’s most exciting, power-hitting outfield prospect.
Mets’ general manager Sandy Alderson could also inquire about shortstop Luis Sardinas. Sardinas currently lacks the power to be a stud major league hitter, but the defense-first infielder also owns a career minor league .292 batting average, 6.5 percent walk rate and 74 stolen bases over 1159 plate appearances.
Even if the youngster’s power never arrives, FanGraphs’ Mike Newman still considers Sardinas the “best shortstop you’ve never heard of.”
To fill Murphy’s second base gig, the Mets could tap either Eric Young Jr. or Wilmer Flores—which would also free up center field for Juan Lagares. And if you’re of the belief that not starting Lagares could result in less wins for the Mets in 2014, then dealing Murphy makes that much more sense.