During the Rangers' rough recent trip to New York, you started to hear a lot of talk about breaking the seal on highly regarded shortstop prospect Jurickson Profar.
The suggestion didn't make much sense since the one spot where the Rangers have gotten consistently strong play all season has been shortstop. Elvis Andrus has bumped his offensive game up to the neighborhood of his defense, which was voted the best in baseball at shortstop in a Baseball America survey of managers this season.
Andrus is getting on base more often and driving the ball with more power than he has in past years, something that has made him the most valuable Ranger through this point in the season. Josh Hamilton might wind up holding that honor when all is said and done, but, for now, Andrus' consistency trumps the peaks between Hamilton's valley.
When you throw in the facts that he's just turning 24 this week and already signed to a very team-friendly contract through the next two seasons, it would seem to be the start of a beautiful period in the relationship between team and player. Thanks to Profar, though, it is feeling like the end.
The Rangers have been among those talking about bringing Profar up this season, which sends a pretty strong indication that they'd like him to be in their lineup at the start of next season. Since Profar plays shortstop and there's been no talk about moving him or Andrus to the outfield, that would suggest that there won't be room in Texas for the two of them.
So Andrus' maturation into a player who can hurt you in every phase of the game might very well be the final chapter in his Rangers story. And a fitting one since the return in a trade for a shortstop who hasn't reached his ceiling should be in the same realm as the one the Rangers got when they dealt Mark Teixeira.
Andrus came over in that deal, which was one of the best in recent baseball history. If the Andrus return is as good as it looks like it will be, that deal will only get better even as the Rangers say goodbye to one of the players responsible for vaulting them into the upper echelon of the major leagues.