Elvis Andrus, and genius.

I hope Elvis Andrus plays his entire big league career as a Ranger.

*          *          *

The genius of the Mark Teixeira Trade is that it could have been double-genius.

For Texas, it was the execution of a big plan, accelerating a franchise overhaul by at least a year and the headline move, symbolically and in fact, that put the Rangers on their way to what they are now.

For Atlanta, it was an unusual opportunity to sell future pieces for an impact bat who would contribute not to one pennant race but to two of them.  The Braves had missed the playoffs only twice in GM John Schuerholz’s 16 seasons: in the strike-shortened 1994 campaign and in 2006, the year before Texas made it known that Teixeira was available.

Atlanta had played five first basemen in 2007: Scott Thorman, Craig Wilson, Chris Woodward, 48-year-old Julio Franco, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who’d made his big league debut that May.  Teixeira was a onetime Georgia Tech star and one of baseball’s most dangerous hitters.  He was under club control through 2008.

Schuerholz, quietly preparing to step away from the GM post, traded Saltalamacchia and four minor leaguers to Texas for Teixeira and middle reliever Ron Mahay.

Teixeira was spectacular in 2007 for the Braves (.317/.404/.615 in 240 trips to the plate, each percentage exceeding his career best), but they missed the playoffs again.  And he was really good again in 2008 (.283/.390/.512) but Atlanta was in the midst of its worst season since 1990 as July rolled around.  The club then blew a huge opportunity, failing to turn Teixeira into anything more than the Angels’ offer of Casey Kotchman and 24-year-old AA middle reliever Steve Marek (who’s no longer in the Atlanta system and still hasn’t reached the big leagues).

To make matters worse, when Los Angeles lost Teixeira to the Yankees following the 2008 season, New York forfeited the 25th overall pick in the 2009 draft to Los Angeles as a result.

The Angels used that pick on Mike Trout.

The Braves didn’t win twice with Teixeira.  They didn’t even win once.  They didn’t trade him well on the back end, and had they not traded him at all they would have ended up with the draft slot where Trout was eventually taken.

But this isn’t about Atlanta.

It’s about Tampa Bay, and something that seems to be getting missed a little bit.

And it’s about the prize of that Texas-Atlanta trade, the great Elvis Andrus.

I’ve heard some writers, locally and nationally, suggest that the Rays might be willing to trade David Price, despite his three years of remaining club control, but that Andrus isn’t someone that would interest the small-market club.

One of them wrote, three weeks ago: “Andrus wouldn’t really fit the Rays, because he’s about to get very expensive, but Jurickson Profar would, and presumably, he would be the first player Tampa Bay would ask for.”

I agree the Rays would probably prefer Profar.  They wouldn’t be alone.  (Jonah Keri suggests this week in his dual Grantland pieces that Profar is the number 18 asset in baseball, while Andrus is number 46.)

But wouldn’t it be genius for a small-market club, poised to win and needing a shortstop, to trade for Andrus now, and then flip him a year from now for three or four blue-chip prospects to plug in at the top of their own farm system?

The hypothetical: Let’s say the Rays really would trade Price.  And that it would take Andrus, Martin Perez, and Leonys Martin to get him right now.

Tampa Bay plays to win in 2013.

And then trades Andrus next winter to a contender willing to part with a truckload for his one final season before free agency.  Let’s say the Tigers offer the Rays (who know they can’t keep Andrus past 2014 and who theoretically have Hak-Ju Lee about ready by then to settle in at shortstop) a package of corner outfielder Nick Castellanos, reliever Bruce Rondon, and center fielder Austin Schotts.

So in effect, Tampa Bay – without throwing in the towel on the 2012 season – trades Price (Chris Archer moves into the rotation) and in return ends up with Perez, Martin, Castellanos, Rondon, and Schotts, along with a season of Andrus playing elite shortstop and hitting at the top of the order for a contending ballclub.

This would be different from the Teixeira Trade because that deal involved a buyer and a seller, while a Rays-Rangers deal would be buyer-buyer, basically.

But Atlanta turned into a seller, and Tampa Bay could, too.

To suggest Andrus “wouldn’t really fit the Rays because he’s about to get very expensive” is a little short-sighted, I think.

*          *          *

I hope Elvis Andrus plays his entire big league career as a Ranger.

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