Reports out of Dallas indicate that the Texas Rangers feel it is "inevitable" that they'll trade starting shortstop Elvis Andrus this off-season.
The Rangers, who have dealt away prospects in recent years in order to try to get over the hump and win their first World Series title, feel that they need to inject some youth into their plans in order to keep the team viable for the long term. That, along with financial considerations, add up to the the club turning to top prospect Jurickson Profar at shortstop and saying goodbye to Andrus.
That position sets Texas up to be a perfect match for a trade with the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Redbirds would like to improve at shortstop and they have a healthy chunk of money to spend because of free agents coming off the books. What the Cardinals don't want to do is give away a healthy chunk of their bumper crop of prospects. So if they could relieve the Rangers of the huge contract they gave Andrus last spring, they ought to be able to give up less for him in terms of talent.
Texas is said to want a package that includes St. Louis rookie starter Shelby Miller in return for Andrus. The Cardinals would prefer to hold on to Miller (and Michael Wacha, Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal.) But they could help the Rangers out with Lance Lynn, 33-17 with a 3.88 ERA in his two seasons as an MLB starter, and potentially Matt Adams, a .284 hitter with 17 home runs in part-time work last season with the Birds.
While Troy Tulowitzki would be a flashier addition, the Rockies are playing hard ball with him and Tulo would likely cost St. Louis much more in talent than Andrus. And I'm not sure that Andrus wouldn't have a bigger impact on the St. Louis offense.
Imagine Andrus, who is a .274 career hitter with a .339 on base percentage, could see a bump in his offensive numbers moving from the more pitching-dominant American League to the Senior Circuit. If he bumped up to .285 with a .350 OBP he'd be a nice lead-off man for St. Louis with 32 or more stolen bases in four of his five MLB seasons and 42 last year.
Move Matt Carpenter to second and the pair could team up to be a hit-and-run machine. They'd set table and keep the infield moving around when the big guns, Matt Holliday and Allen Craig come to the plate.