DALLAS - News doesn't stop on a Sunday. That was evident Sunday afternoon, as the Rangers announced, before the losing effort to the Angels, that they had signed veteran utility infielder Pete Kozma to a Major League deal.
The report detailed that the 29-year old, recently designated Yankee, would join the 25-man roster once he arrived. Kozma apparently joined the club in Houston Sunday evening, as it was announced that Jurickson Profar was being sent down to Triple-A Round Rock.
Kozma, DFA'd on Friday by the Yankees after logging just 10 plate appearances in 11 games, brings five years of veteran presence as a bench player to Texas. Outside of 2013, Kozma has played in just 132 games total from 2011-2015 with the St. Louis Cardinals (no, he was not a part of that postseason team in 2011).
In that 2013 season, a year in which the Cardinals lost to Boston in the World Series, Kozma played in 143 regular season games for St. Louis, primarily as a shortstop.
Sporting a career .221/.286/.290 slash line, Kozma is being brought aboard this currently floundering Rangers club because of his ability to play shortstop, third and second base. He steps into a role that would likely have been filled by Hanser Alberto, except that Alberto is continuing to recover from right shoulder inflammation.
As it were, Kozma replaces Jurickson Profar on the roster. Profar, who opened the season as the Rangers' supposed super-utility player, is doing neither the team nor himself any good by being a backup player. In just 15 games, 37 at-bats, Profar slashed .135/.289/.135.
If you're saying to yourself, "The Rangers haven't let him play enough every day to show he can do more," then you're correct. That's the reasoning that led Texas to sign Kozma, whose value won't suffer from being exactly what he is.
Some players, like Profar, are meant to be everyday players. They struggle without consistent playing time. Others, like Kozma (who even has a couple of games, literally, two, under his belt in left field), are used to that lifestyle and are likely more apt to stay engaged in the game, despite not being involved.
Profar's move to Triple-A will never be publicly acknowledged by the organization as a demotion; in fact, it arguably shouldn't be considered as such. It's a chance for Profar to showcase some semblance of the talent that made him baseball's number one prospect half a decade ago.
Sure, the Rangers would love to have him get more experience against Major League hitting but the Rangers' team batting average sitting at a lackluster .220 to finish April, however. This move is less about the Rangers wanting Profar to find himself and more about the idea that they can't afford to have him find himself at the expense of the team.
Furthermore, if Texas continues in the manner in which they are performing, they are going to want to have talent at their peak level come July.
Is Pete Kozma going to be a shot in the arm for this offense and this team? No, likely not. Is he a more experienced bench player, who doesn't cause the front office to wince (for multiple reasons) every time he comes into a game? Yes.
Kozma will be in uniform at Minute Maid Park, as the Rangers meet the Astros for the first time this season on Monday.
Please share your fondest Pete Kozma memories with Matt on Twitter @FisherWritesMLB.
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