Commentary

Another winning move for Rangers

Signing Elvis Andrus to long-term deal provides plenty of options for Jon Daniels

Updated: April 1, 2013, 10:08 PM ET
By Jean-Jacques Taylor | ESPNDallas.com

HOUSTON -- Jon Daniels showed us once again why he's one of the best general managers in baseball.

He also showed us that when the time is right and the player is right, JD will spend enough of ownership's money to get a deal done for the Texas Rangers.

Coming off one of the worst collapses in baseball history -- Texas blew a five-game lead with nine to play -- JD had an awful offseason. The club's two biggest acquisitions were 37-year-old Lance Berkman and 36-year-old catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Meanwhile, Josh Hamilton left, and the club failed to trade for Justin Upton or sign coveted free-agent pitcher Zack Greinke.

Well, JD made up for it by getting Elvis Andrus to agree to terms on an eight-year, $120 million extension, according to sources, that'll keep him with the Rangers at least through 2018. If Andrus doesn't exercise the opt-out clause after 2018, he can be with the Rangers through 2022.

Wow.

And you thought a deal with Andrus couldn't or wouldn't get done because Scott Boras, baseball's most powerful agent, represents the 24-year-old shortstop. After all, Boras' clients rarely re-sign with their teams once they hit free agency.

It appears Andrus did the same thing Jered Weaver did last year: He told Boras to get a deal done.

What so many folks seem to forget is the agent works for the player -- not the other way around. If the player tells an agent to get a deal done, then it gets done.

Why more players don't do this is beyond me. Sure, Andrus could've made more cash by waiting and signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers or the New York Yankees, who believe it's their birthright to acquire every big-dollar free agent.

But there's something to be said for staying with a team you like in an environment that you love with an opportunity to win.

It's a ton of cash, especially for a shortstop with 14 homers in nearly 2,300 at-bats.

But you can't just talk about how pitching and defense wins titles and then let one of the game's best defensive shortstops walk. Andrus' batting average and OPS have increased each of the past four years.

[+] EnlargeElvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler
AP Photo/John BazemoreSigning Elvis Andrus to a long-term deal allows the Rangers to lock up one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball while also providing options moving forward with Ian Kinsler and Jurickson Profar.

More important, he has an infectious personality that keeps a clubhouse loose, and he'll start to become a bigger voice as reporters gravitate to him after big wins and tough losses.

The Rangers now have options that will allow them to be among the American League's best teams for years to come.

Jurickson Profar will start the season at Triple-A Round Rock, but it's only a matter of time before he arrives in Texas or the Rangers send him to another team in a major trade.

The Rangers made a good decision to have Profar start the season in Round Rock because it's more important for him to develop by playing every day in the minor leagues than it is playing a couple of days a week in the big leagues.

Profar, the top prospect in baseball, is the kind of trade chip that could be the centerpiece of a deal that brings a star such as Tampa Bay pitcher David Price or Miami outfielder Giancarlo Stanton to the Rangers.

Given the choice, I'd take Price. Every time.

And it has zero to do with Stanton, who would thrive in Rangers Ballpark. It has considerably more to do with the dearth of front-line pitchers in the big leagues.

Price is one of the game's few dominant pitchers. If you can acquire him and get him signed to a long-term deal, then do it.

For just a moment, allow yourself to dream about a rotation of Price, Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland and Alexi Ogando, Martin Perez or Neftali Feliz as the fifth starter.

And if the Rangers decide they want to keep Profar and put him at second base next season and team him up with Andrus in the middle of the infield for the next five years, then that's cool, too.

Maybe Ian Kinsler gets moved to first base next season, if Mitch Moreland's strong spring doesn't translate into a good season. Maybe Kinsler plays one of the corner outfield spots if David Murphy or Nelson Cruz leaves via free agency.

Perhaps Kinsler is the designated hitter if Lance Berkman plays only one season with the Rangers.

No one knows yet how it's going to play out. Not even JD.

Signing Andrus long-term has given the Rangers a litany of options. All of them are good.

Jean-Jacques Taylor joined ESPNDallas.com in August 2011. A native of Dallas, Taylor spent the past 20 years writing for The Dallas Morning News, where he covered high schools sports, the Texas Rangers and spent 11 seasons covering the Dallas Cowboys before becoming a general columnist in 2006.

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