The Texas Rangers signed Elvis Andrus through his three years of arbitration eligibility for $14-15 million, according to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi. The deal doesn't include any option years, so the Scott Boras client could hit the open market at age 26.
While he rarely gets the ball out of the infield, Andrus has managed to be a non-zero at the plate during his first three MLB seasons by making contact and working the count. His .271/.340/.343 line and .302 Weighted On-Base Average (wOBA) match up pretty well with the .265/.321/.382 triple-slash and .306 wOBA posted by big league shortstops since 2009. He also adds runs with his legs, with over 30 steals each season and a career 76% success rate. But where Andrus truly shines is in the field.
Error totals aside, Andrus rates as perhaps the game's rangiest shortstop judging by advanced defensive metrics. Baseball-Reference's Total Zone and the Fielding Bible's Plus/Minus system both show Andrus saving nine runs more than an average shortstop per season, while Fangraphs' Ultimate Zone Rating has him at +6-7 runs per season. When a Rangers pitcher induces a ground ball to the left-center portion of the infield, Andrus has his back.
Since 2009, Rangers hurlers have a .148 batting average on balls in play on grounders hit to left-center. That's a full 20 points below the .168 BABIP for all major league pitchers over the past three years, and amounts to an extra 12 outs per season for Texas moundsmen. Here are the Rangers starters who have benefited most from Andrus' fielding prowess (minimum 50 grounders to left-center):
|C. J. Wilson||277||.141|
I don't know whether Andrus and Yu Darvish have met yet, but I imagine they'll become fast friends.