Jurickson Profar Rumors

West Notes: Zduriencik, Profar, Morneau, Angels

Over at Fangraphs, Jeff Sullivan takes a look at the just-ended tenure of former Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik. Seattle changed course in the middle of his tenure, says Sullivan, with the organization moving from a focus on finding value and prioritizing defense to a grab for power bats. The club also failed to develop its best-regarded talent to its full potential, Sullivan notes, even if it’s hard ultimately to pin down a cause for that failure. All said, whatever the reason, Zduriencik was never able to turn the club into a regular contender.

Here are a few more notes from out west:

  • Rangers infielder Jurickson Profar could join the big league club in September, GM Jon Daniels acknowledged yesterday, as Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports. While the former top prospect still is not ready to play the field — he’s recovering from a series of significant shoulder problems — he could hit and run. Texas is considering an Arizona Fall League placement, if Profar seems ready to begin making full-speed throws.
  • First baseman Justin Morneau could still suit up for the Rockies this year, as Nick Groke of the Denver Post writes. Manager Walt Weiss said that the situation was different than most injuries, given Morneau’s somewhat tricky neck and concussion issues. Morneau has previously indicated that he hopes to play next season, so returning to show his health and some productivity would obviously be quite a boon to his stock. While his deal includes a $9MM mutual option for next year, Colorado seems quite likely instead to pay him a $750K buyout.
  • As the Angels reportedly begin what is expected to be a quick-moving GM search, Yankees assistant GM Billy Eppler is one name that has been “heard frequently” by MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez (Twitter link). Eppler featured rather prominently in last year’s round of general manager hirings, though obviously he ended up staying in New York.

Quick Hits: Scully, Harang, Profar, Kirby

Legendary Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully has announced his intention to return for the 2016 season. He expects it to be his final season as a broadcaster, writes Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. It will be his 67th season in the booth. As Sportsnet Stats tweeted earlier today, Scully has announced games involving A’s manager Connie Mack (born 1862) and Cubs shortstop Addison Russell (born 1994). He’s likely to see a couple even younger players including Julio Urias (born 1996).

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Phillies starter Aaron Harang was not claimed on waivers, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. As Heyman notes, Harang has a 7.09 ERA since the All-Star break. He has about $1MM remaining on his $5MM contract and is a free agent following the season. The Cubs and Pirates are among the contenders in need of rotation depth, but it’s unclear if either team would view him as an upgrade over internal options. It doesn’t seem as though the Phillies could acquire much more than some financial relief or a non-prospect in a deal. As such, a trade may be unlikely.
  • Former number one prospect Jurickson Profar could work his way back onto the Rangers roster, writes Stefan Stevenson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The 22-year-old is rehabbing from multiple shoulder injuries. He won’t play the field this fall. However, he could help the club after rosters expand as a pinch-hitter or runner while working directly with the major league training staff.
  • Brewers prospect Nathan Kirby is likely to undergo Tommy John surgery, writes Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The 40th overal pick of the 2015 draft led the University of Virginia Cavaliers to the 2015 World Series. An undisclosed medical issue -presumably the elbow issue – led the club to reduce the lefty’s signing bonus from $1.545MM to $1.25MM. Kirby will miss the entire 2016 season.

AL West Notes: Keuchel, Newcomb, Profar, Stearns

In light of recent reports about preliminary extension talks between the Astros and ace Dallas Keuchel, Fangraphs’ Craig Edwards examines the impact that a potential Cy Young Award would have on Keuchel’s arbitration case. Keuchel already has a very good chance at breaking the outdated record for a first-year arbitration-eligible pitcher (Dontrelle Willis’ $4.35MM record is, as Edwards notes, about a decade old). However, as Edwards explains, the arb process treats award-winners differently, and securing the Cy Young Award could boost his first-year arb price even further. As such, taking home the hardware for being the AL’s best pitcher in 2015, if it happens — and Keuchel indeed has a strong case — could make it difficult for team and player to agree to a fair price to put on Keuchel’s three arbitration seasons, let alone on his free agent years.

A few more items pertaining to the AL West…

  • In his latest Prospect Pipeline Inbox column, MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo kicks off by answering the question of whether or not Angels southpaw Sean Newcomb could pitch in the Majors in 2016. Mayo explains that while he wouldn’t have thought so prior to the 2015 campaign, Newcomb has impressively pitched at three levels this season, showing a consistent propensity for strikeouts and ground-balls and thereby placing himself on the fast track to the Majors. While the former No. 15 overall pick (2014) needs to hone his command and improve upon his 4.8 BB/9 rate, Mayo does feel that Newcomb is capable of reaching the Majors in the second half of the 2016 season.
  • Jurickson Profar played in his first regular-season game since Sept. 27, 2013 today, writes Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News. The former No. 1 overall prospect served as the designated hitter for the Rangers‘ Class-A affiliate today. He’ll continue to rehab there but only in a DH capacity for the remainder of this season. Profar, still just 22 years of age, has missed the past two seasons due to a pair of torn shoulder muscles. He was a consensus Top 10 prospect heading into the 2012 season before emerging as the game’s No. 1 prospect (per Baseball America, MLB.com and Baseball Prospectus) heading into the 2013 campaign. The Rangers will hope to have him healthy again in 2016.
  • As teams trend toward the hiring of younger, analytically savvy general managers, Astros assistant GM David Stearns’ name could become a target, writes Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. While Drellich notes that it’s perhaps a bit early for Stearns to garner serious consideration from other clubs, GM Jeff Luhnow does feel that his lieutenant has the chops to handle a GM role down the line. “There’s several people in our organization that have GM potential, and David’s one of them,” Luhnow said. “I expect over the coming years, as we have success, they’ll get opportunities at least to interview.”


Injury Notes: Garza, Pence, Profar, Luebke

The Brewers have placed righty Matt Garza on the 15-day DL with what the team is calling right shoulder tendinitis, Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports. It appears as though the plan is to maximize Garza’s rest with the All-Star break, but one wonders whether the move also removes him from serious consideration as a trade piece this summer. Garza indicated that the issue was not terribly significant, but he has a long and growing list of medical ailments that have cropped up in his career. And then there’s the fact that Garza will not have much opportunity to improve his value after a rough first half. He is sporting a 5.55 ERA in 99 frames on the year, with ERA estimators not painting a much rosier picture, and his strikeout rate continues to fall. Garza is owed $12.5MM annually from 2014-17 under the deal he signed to join the Brewers, and also has a fairly achievable $13MM vesting clause tacked on at the end of his contract.

  • Giants outfielder Hunter Pence appears to be nearing a return from the DL in the fairly near future, possibly before the All-Star break, MLB.com’s Oliver Macklin writes. San Francisco has dropped back to .500 and could certainly use a jolt from the dynamic Pence, not least of which because the club is also missing fellow corner outfielder Norichika Aoki. Assuming Pence can avoid another setback with his wrist and re-entrench himself in right field, the club would have a much less pressing need for an additional outfielder.
  • Padres lefty Cory Luebke has suffered a setback in his bid to return from a second successive Tommy John procedure, Corey Brock of MLB.com reports. For now, it’s just elbow discomfort, but the team was concerned enough to bring the 30-year-old back to San Diego from his rehab assignment in Triple-A. Luebke has not pitched in the big leagues in over three years, though he has finally seen competitive action in the minors for the first time since originally blowing out his UCL.
  • Another once-promising player who is on a long road back is Rangers infielder Jurickson Profar, who was once one of the game’s very best prospects. As Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News writes, Profar remains staggeringly young given how long he’s been on the scene and out with shoulder issues. He’ll still only be 23 come next spring. Profar remains a long way from returning to the big leagues, says Fraley, who notes that he is progressing through daily rehab sessions and monthly MRI tests.

AL West Notes: Montero, Coke, Profar, Hamilton

Jesus Montero has been a massive disappointment with the Mariners, but spent the offseason putting himself in position for a turnaround, as Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reports. Montero is in great shape, as photo and video confirms, and is certainly young and talented enough to hold plenty of promise.

More from the west:

  • The Rangers are still looking at lefty Phil Coke and watched him throw again recently, reports Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News. GM Jon Daniels discussed the possibility of adding an arm today, noting that depth is always valuable but expressing interest in seeing his current group in camp. (Video via Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest.) While the club has to this point been unwilling to make Coke a major league offer, with the southpaw still holding out for a 40-man spot, Fraley notes that the bad news on Jurickson Profar will clear a big league roster space since he is destined for the 60-day DL.
  • As for the unfortunate news on Profar, the Rangers‘ head baseball decisionmaker firmly rejected the idea that the prospect deserved criticism for trying to avoid surgery by rehab. While the news that a procedure would be required was not a total surprise, Daniels said that the 22-year-old infielder made the difficult decision for good reasons and worked very hard over the offseason. Certainly, Daniels did not sound like he was interested in giving up on Profar. “Fortunately, he’s still just 22 years old,” said the GM. “We’ll get him back and we’ll get him out there.”
  • Angels slugger Josh Hamilton is going to require a longer recovery from shoulder surgery than originally expected, as MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez reports. At this point, it isn’t even clear that Hamilton will be close enough to report to spring camp. It still does not seem that an addition will truly be necessary, with Matt Joyce on hand to step in. Hamilton’s absence will presumably also create additional opportunities for players like Collin Cowgill and waiver claimees Alfredo Marte and Roger Kieschnick.

Quick Hits: Bochy, Navarro, Moncada, Profar

Giants manager Bruce Bochy underwent a medical procedure to insert two stents into his heart and is now resting comfortably in a Scottsdale hospital, according to a team press release.  “Following his physical yesterday, the Giants medical staff was monitoring Bruce Bochy’s heart after he experienced some discomfort,” according to the statement.  The skipper is scheduled to be released on Friday and he’s already sent texts to CSNBayArea.com’s Andrew Baggarly and Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (both Twitter links) saying that he’ll be back in camp in a couple of days.  We at all MLBTR wish Bochy all the best in his recovery.

Here’s some news from around baseball…

  • The Blue Jays aren’t actively discussing a Dioner Navarro trade with any other teams, FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi reports (via Twitter).  Earlier this week, I examined Navarro as a trade candidate since Russell Martin has taken over the starting catcher’s job in Toronto.
  • A rival executive believes the Yankees are the top contender to sign Yoan Moncada, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports in a roundup of the Moncada market.  The Yankees aren’t keen, however, on paying a bonus in the $40-$50MM range, which is what some sources say Moncada will probably receive.
  • With Jurickson Profar likely to miss another full season due to shoulder injuries, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News wonders if this could spell the end of Profar’s time with the Rangers.  It’s hard to believe Texas would consider non-tendering a former top-ranked prospect Profar when he’s eligible for arbitration next winter, yet Grant is right in noting that the Rangers might just move on with Elvis Andrus and Rougned Odor in the middle infield.
  • Left-hander Joe Beimel is reportedly hoping to land a multi-year contract, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune tweets.  Beimel reportedly had three teams interested in him in late January, though one of those clubs (the Mariners) looks to be out of the running.  Though Beimel had a solid season with the M’s in 2014, it’s hard to see him landing more than a one-year deal at this stage of the offseason given his age (he turns 38 in April) and injury history (missing all of 2012 due to Tommy John surgery).
  • Also from Dutton, the arbitration hearing between the Mariners and Tom Wilhelmsen will take place on Friday.  The reliever is one of just three remaining players with outstanding arb cases, as per the MLBTR Arbitration Tracker.  Wilhelmsen is looking for $2.2MM for his 2015 contract while Seattle has countered with a $1.4MM offer.

Jurickson Profar To Undergo Shoulder Surgery

3:17pm: The specific reason for Profar’s surgery will be to repair a torn labrum, tweets Andro.

2:58pm: Rangers top prospect Jurickson Profar, who missed the entire 2014 season after twice tearing a muscle in his shoulder, will undergo right shoulder surgery on Monday, tweets Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest. As MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan writes, Profar had previously been throwing from 105 feet without any major discomfort and undergoing an MRI every three weeks to monitor his progress. His most recent MRI, however, showed increased strain on his subscapular muscle, prompting the decision for surgery.

The Rangers will not announce a timetable for recovery until the procedure has been completed, Sullivan notes, but Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News tweets that his expectation is for Profar to miss the entirety of the 2015 season. Grant also notes that doctors recommended surgery for Profar as far back as September.

Profar ranked as the consensus No. 1 prospect in baseball heading into the 2013 season, receiving that distinction from Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, MLB.com and ESPN’s Keith Law. He made his debut as a 20-year-old that season and homered in his first big league plate appearance, though he went on to struggle, relatively speaking, to a .234/.308/.366 batting line in 324 plate appearances that season. (That line, of course, is likely more than most 20-year-olds could muster at the MLB level.)

News of another likely serious injury is of course a crushing blow to the Rangers, their fans and Profar himself. However, Profar is still quite young, as he’ll turn 22 years of age tomorrow. In other words, despite being two years removed from ranking as the game’s top prospect, he’s still more than a year younger than Kris Bryant, who many believe to be baseball’s current top prospect. There’s plenty of time for Profar to recover and go onto a meaningful career, but it’s nonetheless troublesome to see injury problems of this extent at such a young age.

With Profar out of the picture and Luis Sardinas traded to the Brewers, the quartet of young middle infielders the Rangers had has now been reduced to Elvis Andrus, who will again man shortstop, and Rougned Odor, who will now likely fill the second base role unchallenged in 2015.


AL Notes: Shields, Samardzija, Moncada, Rangers

James Shields, the top free agent still available, has lost his leverage and is in the worst possible spot as most teams have exhausted their payroll space and are more willing to identify reasons to dismiss an available player, opines ESPN’s Buster Olney in an Insider piece (subscription required). The longer a premium free agent like Shields remains unsigned, Olney notes, the more his negotiating strategy and leverage position are picked apart. Along those lines, a National League GM tells Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, “It’s hard to project a team would go five years.

In today’s news and notes from the American League:

  • Agent Mark Rodgers told MLB Network Radio’s Jim Bowden and Jim Duquette (audio link) he will listen to any overtures from the White Sox to extend Jeff Samardzija, but his client will most likely find out what his “ultimate value is in the open market, which is what free agency is all about.
  • The Tigers hosted a private workout for Yoan Moncada, reports Lynn Henning of the Detroit News. MLB.com’s Jason Beck adds the workout was held last week at the team’s facility in Lakeland. Both Henning and Beck believe this was simply due diligence on the Tigers’ part because of the signing bonus Moncada will command.
  • In today’s mailbag, a reader asks Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer why the Indians allowed J.D. Martinez to slip through their fingers and join their divisional rivals last year. The Tigers, he explained, needed depth in the outfield late in Spring Training. The Tribe, on the other hand, had more than enough with David Murphy, Ryan Raburn, Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn, and Michael Brantley. At the time, they didn’t know Raburn would struggle and both Swisher and Bourn would be hindered by injuries.
  • Matt Harrison told reporters, including Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News, he expects the Rangers to place him on the 60-day disabled list to open the season. Harrison also acknowleged a minor setback in his rehab, but the issue had to do with his mechanics rather than his health.
  • Rangers infielder Jurickson Profar told reporters, including FOX Sports Southwest’s Anthony Andro, he is pleased with the results his throwing program has had on his right shoulder. Profar, who is slated to take some dry swings from the right side this week, said his goal is to play in all of Texas’ Spring Training games.
  • In a nod that today is Super Bowl Sunday, Rangers GM Jon Daniels confirmed Russell Wilson will participate in the club’s Spring Training camp, Andro tweets. To illustrate the quarterback’s love of baseball, Rodgers, who also represents Wilson, told MLB Network Radio (audio link), if Wilson could figure out a way to play both sports, he would.

West Notes: D’Backs, Rockies, Haren, Profar

MLBTR offers its best wishes to the family and friends of former Negro League player Herb Simpson, who passed away Wednesday at age 94. As MLB.com’s Greg Johns writes, Simpson was the last known surviving member of the Seattle Steelheads and also saw action with the Birmingham Black Barons and Chicago American Giants.

As we honor an early pioneer of African-American baseball in the Pacific Northwest, here are some notes from the league’s western divisions:

  • Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart tells Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic that asking prices in trade talks for another backstop are simply too high at present. “We’ve not made a whole lot of headway in that area yet,” said Stewart. “Without really giving up something that’s going to cost us a player that we don’t want to give away, we don’t have a whole lot of motion yet.” Arizona has had talks with the Blue Jays regarding Dioner Navarro and with the Cubs regarding Welington Castillo, says Piecoro.
  • The Rockies have “mild” interest in trading for Dan Haren, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. However, as he notes, the thin air and homer-friendly nature of Coors Field make Colorado a fairly poor fit for Haren. Morosi also tweets that while the Giants did have interest earlier in the offseason (prior to re-signing Jake Peavy), there’s no active dialogue between Miami and San Francisco.
  • Rangers top prospect Jurickson Profar, who missed the entire 2014 season after tearing the same muscle in his right shoulder twice, has been cleared to begin a throwing program on Jan. 19, tweets Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest. Still just 21 years old, it was only two years ago that Profar was the consensus No. 1 overall prospect in baseball (per Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus and MLB.com). A healthy Profar would give the Rangers somewhat of a surplus of middle infielders, as Elvis Andrus and Rougned Odor are both in the fold as well.

Rangers Notes: Middle Infield, Padres Starters, Choice

Texas has several irons in the fire. Here’s the latest:

  • The Rangers are fielding strong interest in their middle infield group, tweets T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. Jurickson Profar is among the names that has been asked about, and Texas has received particularly strong interest in Rougned Odor.The Rangers are not shopping Odor, who is still only 20 years of age and had a solid MLB debut last year. That pair of youngsters is joined in the Texas infield by incumbent shortstop Elvis Andrus and 21-year-old Luis Sardinas. The potential logjam up the middle has yet to materialize with Profar’s recent injury troubles, though the team could feel free to deal from depth depending upon his progress.
  • Meanwhile, the Rangers and Padres are still talking pitching, Sullivan tweets, though Texas has more interest in Tyson Ross than in Andrew Cashner because of the latter’s health concerns and road numbers.
  • San Diego is interested in Profar, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post. But he says that a straight swap of Profar for one of the Friars’ three best arms (Ross, Cashner, and Ian Kennedy) is not going to get done.
  • Sullivan also notes on Twitter that teams remain intrigued by the upside potential of outfielder Michael Choice, who had a rough 2014, but that clubs looking to plug an immediate hole do not see him as a solution.