The Texas Rangers, or anyone else for that matter, don't know what is going to happen with Nelson Cruz, given the recent news about his possible PED use. In order to prepare themselves in case of a suspension to Cruz, the Rangers are planning on having their two top position prospects, Jurickson Profar and Mike Olt, see plenty of time in the outfield this spring, according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
The idea of using either of their top prospects in the outfield isn't new for the Rangers, as the Rangers have considered the outfield as a way to get both players into an already deep lineup. The Rangers have considered Profar, a natural shortstop, at second base with a move either to first base or the outfield for current second baseman Ian Kinsler, but they have not gone through with that idea to this point.
The Rangers current center field situation includes a platoon between Craig Gentry and the unproven Leonys Martin. Even with Cruz in the lineup, the Rangers may still be best off with Profar in center field, assuming he takes to it defensively this spring. If the Rangers feel that Profar can handle the transition to the outfield this spring, they could choose to put his bat in center field full time, and it wouldn't be shocking to see him outperform their current platoon.
But if Cruz does have to miss time with a suspension, it may open up room for Profar and Olt to play alongside each other. Olt, a natural third baseman, is entering the spring competing for playing time at first base with incumbent Mitch Moreland, a left-handed hitter best suited for a platoon, but Olt has spent some time in the outfield in the minors.
The Rangers have already stated this off-season that neither prospect will be kept in the majors to begin the season if there isn't enough playing time available to justify their being there, and that stance appears to still be in effect. They don't want to stagnate the development of either prospect by having them play part-time in the majors, nor do they want to waste their service time in a bench role, and their strategy here is sound. Without everyday playing time, both should return to the minors until a spot for them opens in the majors.
It's important to remember that Olt and Profar aren't a package deal. Profar could easily come into camp and win the Rangers starting job in center field while Olt struggles or simply doesn't outplay any of the guys ahead of him on the Rangers depth chart. A suspension for Cruz would open a door for Olt in a corner outfield spot, but his case for making the team this spring is independent of that of Profar's.
Profar, on the other hand, could make the Rangers starting roster independently of anything that goes on with Cruz. Gentry has been a nice player, but he's not an every day player and Martin is unproven. It wouldn't shock me to see Profar come into spring training, take to center field like he's been out there his whole life, and grab a spot in the Ranges starting lineup the old-fashioned way - by earning it in the spring.