Surprise position outlook: Shortstop
Today's position: Shortstop
For a guy who wasn't a free agent, Elvis Andrus' name was talked about plenty this offseason. That's what happens when your agent is Scott Boras and you're just two years away from free agency.
Kim Klement/US PresswireElvis Andrus didn't steal as many bases as he'd like in 2012, but his bat was as potent as it's ever been.
Defensively, Andrus was solid at short. He was one of three finalists for a Gold Glove at shortstop after the 2012 season and made plenty of highlight-reel plays. He and Adrian Beltre made it difficult on hitters to get balls through the left side of the infield.
But Andrus knows there are some things he'd like to do better. For starters, he wasn't able to steal as many bases as he'd like. Andrus had at least 32 stolen bases in each of his first three seasons, yet could only manage 21 in 2012. That was a 16-steal drop-off from the previous season. But his batting average and OBP were the highest of his career.
Andrus' contract situation and his season made him the subject of trade speculation. But the bottom line is Andrus is a trade piece who should be dealt only for a top-flight player in return. Earlier in the offseason, the Arizona Diamondbacks wanted a shortstop as part of any Justin Upton deal. The Rangers weren't reportedly willing to include Andrus or Jurickson Profar in that kind of deal. But should something really big come up (a big-time pitcher like a David Price, for instance) than maybe the club listens. Perhaps that's the kind of thing that happens in July.
Or perhaps Andrus signs a long-term deal with the Rangers and is the club's shortstop for years to come with Profar moving positions or being a part of a major trade.
As we get closer to spring training, Andrus is slotted at shortstop. Will he bat second again? That's a question that has yet to be determined. I think Andrus could be an interesting leadoff candidate, should the club move Kinsler out of that spot. But Washington will see what his team looks like and then decide how players should be slotted in the lineup. He has time to play around with that at spring training.
Andrus is a critical member of this club, both offensively and defensively. And with the departure of Michael Young, he's another player who has to be ready to take on more of a leadership role. He's now had four years in the big leagues and should be ready for that kind of job. It will be interesting to watch him mature even more -- on and off the field.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus joins Galloway & Company to discuss having Scott Boras as his agent, his new contract and having Jurickson Profar in the lineup.
Play Podcast Rangers manager Ron Washington joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett for his weekly visit to discuss Yu Darvish's pitch count and how he spends time in the clubhouse during weather delays.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway & Company for his weekly visit to discuss the latest Rangers news.
Play Podcast Reid Ryan joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss his new position with the Houston Astros and whether he could see his dad, Nolan, joining him there in the future.
Play Podcast ESPN MLB Insider Jayson Stark joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss if the Rangers are the best team in baseball, what makes them so good and if he thinks the team will trade Jurickson Profar.
Play Podcast Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss Ron Washington's decision to send Yu Darvish to the mound for the eighth inning Thursday night and how he would handle a situation like that if he were still a GM.
Play Podcast Randy Galloway, Matt Mosley and Glenn "Stretch" Smith discuss the latest Rangers news, including the Yu Darvish-Justin Verlander matchup.
Play Podcast Nelson Cruz joins Galloway & Company to discuss the Rangers' series in Oakland, his ups and downs at the plate and if the PED talks before the season were a distraction.