Did the odds on Jurickson Profar and Mike Olt making the big league squad out of camp improve today? Maybe. General manager Jon Daniels indicated Tuesday that the club will consider including Profar and Olt on the roster, even if it's not in an everyday capacity.
Of course, that may not mean that both would make the club as bench players. But anything is possible. Both players have been told to prepare for anything, including playing the outfield, though that seems more like Olt's avenue to playing time. Profar has never played in the outfield and Olt has two big league games there (he had an error in one). Profar wants to do everything he can to try to make the club, as evidenced by his decision not to play in the World Baseball Classic.
With Adrian Beltre firmly holding down third base and the club committed to seeing with Mitch Moreland can do, moving Olt to right field -- especially in light of what may or may not happen to Nelson Cruz in terms of a suspension -- makes sense.
The question that the Rangers will have to ask is whether it's beneficial for the club and Profar or Olt to have them in the big leagues even if they aren't starters. The key is getting them enough action.
"I know Wash has talked about giving the regulars a little more rest, and there may be a role carved out for one of these guys," Daniels said. "It may not be a seven-day-a-week starting job, but a chance to impact the team. We’ll be open to that."
Daniels added that he doesn't want to have them on the team if they aren't going to at least see some decent time. He noted that Leonys Martin was with the big club and barely played. But with few bench options as it stands now, manager Ron Washington could turn to the young players more often. And as Daniels points out, Washington intends to rest his regulars a little more in 2013.
So the Rangers will let things play out. It's a bit of a departure from what Daniels said in January when Lance Berkman was introduced. It seemed pretty clear then that Profar would end up in the minors because there wasn't an everyday role available. At this point, there still isn't one. But the organization appears more open to having him come off the bench, if it's the right situation. Nothing is set in stone, and for Profar or Olt to make the club they'd have to show some versatility so they can be plugged into different spots.
It should be very interesting to see how they do, see if MLB announces anything on Cruz before the season starts and if the front office is convinced that Profar and/or Olt would get enough playing time to warrant breaking with the club despite not having a starting spot.
If they prove to be the best of the bunch in camp and Washington is committed to playing them at least once or twice a week, I can see the temptation. Could it lead to even more playing time as things go along? Sure, if they earn it. But they have to be getting some sort of time initially and not just sitting for weeks at a time. I'm more apt to give them a chance to get more at-bats in Triple-A and play every day, even if it's for a few months. But we'll see. All of that will depend on exactly what the role might be and if the club deems that a few games a week in the big leagues is better than seven in the minors. With injuries and other things, it could become more than a few games a week, too. You never know. That's why you have to let spring play out and see what happens. (Let's not forget that if Profar starts in the minors and stays there for a little under two months, he won't accrue a year of service time and you'd have him under team control for a year longer.)
Would you keep Profar or Olt on the roster if they aren't starting or would you send them to Triple-A to give them every day at-bats?