- Jean-Jacques Taylor, ESPN Staff Writer
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As soon as the Texas Rangers decide they don't need 13 pitchers on their roster, which should happen by the end of the week, general manager Jon Daniels should promote shortstop Jurickson Profar from Double-A Frisco to the big leagues.
If it means Profar potentially becomes a free agent in 2018 instead of 2019, then so be it.
This season is about winning a title. Nothing else matters.
If Profar can help -- he can and he will -- then there's no need to delay promoting him to Arlington.
The Rangers need a backup middle infielder after designating Alberto Gonzalez for assignment. He cleared waivers and is playing shortstop for the Rangers' Triple-A club in Round Rock.
Profar is the No. 1 prospect in baseball, according to most services tracking that sort of thing. You can't persuade me that he's not more valuable to the Rangers than he would be at Frisco -- or than Gonzalez, who had only 54 at-bats this season.
The Rangers have a commanding lead in the American League West, but they trail the New York Yankees in the race for the best record in the American League and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
With the AL's best home record 36-22, the Rangers should be competing as hard for home-field advantage as they are the division title. No one, if given a choice, wants to play a series against New York when the Yankees have home-field advantage.
Profar, hitting .285 with 70 runs scored and 46 extra-base hits in 111 games, can help. No one is suggesting he's going to send Michael Young to the bench, because that's not going to happen.
Time after time, Rangers manager Ron Washington has pledged his loyalty to Young, because he believes in the veteran's 12-year track record and he understands Young's influence in the clubhouse.
Washington also remembers how Young supported him when his cocaine dalliance became public a couple of years ago.
Their relationship is as strong as it has ever been.
Young is a career .301 hitter with a lifetime OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) of .791. This season, Young is hitting .269 with an OPS of .643. Young hasn't homered in more than three months and he hasn't had a day off since June 10.
Frankly, that makes no sense.
Every player dealing with the Texas heat on a regular basis could use a rest. A 35-year-old who's struggling at the plate certainly needs an off day, whether it's a mental health day or just to give his body a rest.
Profar would make it easier to give Young or Kinsler a day off as we near the homestretch of the season. And if he's needed as a defensive replacement or a pinch runner late in a game, that's cool, too.
The Rangers promoted third baseman Mike Olt from Double-A earlier this month and he has had just 10 at-bats since his arrival.
Still, Olt delivered a walk-off pinch-single Saturday in the Rangers' 2-1 win over Detroit. Would you rather have Olt, the second-best prospect in the Rangers' system who had destroyed Double-A pitching this season, at the plate in a key situation or career journeyman Brandon Snyder?
The same is true of Profar.
If the Rangers had a key at-bat late in September or in the postseason, would you rather have Gonzalez or Profar at the plate? It's not even debatable.
And if Profar languishes on the bench, so what.
Let's not act like the 19-year-old Profar can't learn from osmosis by hanging around true professionals such as Young and Beltre.
Or picking Elvis Andrus' brain about playing shortstop, or learning the nuances of baserunning from Gary Pettis and the subtleties of defense from Washington.
Plus, he can feel the tension that accompanies a division race. There's no downside to Profar joining the Rangers except starting his clock on free agency, and that's so low on the priority list that it doesn't even register.
The Rangers were adamant about not dealing Profar or Olt at the MLB trade deadline because Daniels viewed each as a key component to the club's future. Well, the future has arrived.
The Rangers' bench stunk last season. Profar and Olt should be considered upgrades.
Don't forget, a spare such as Esteban German was on the World Series roster and had an at-bat in the Fall Classic. Again, you'd feel considerably better about Profar in that situation than German.
Daniels, assistant GM Thad Levine and special assistant Don Welke are forever talking about accelerating the development of the gifted.
The Rangers emphasize talent more than age. It's the reason Profar should soon make his MLB debut.
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