The Ranger announced after yesterday’s game that infielder/outfielder Jurickson Profar has been optioned to Triple-A Round Rock in order to clear a spot on the roster for infielder Pete Kozma, who was claimed off waivers from the Yankees.
The decision to option Profar may be a surprise to some that haven’t followed his season closely. Profar clearly comes with plenty of name value after twice topping Baseball America’s Top 100 prospects list a few years ago and homering in his first Major League plate appearances as a 19-year-old back in 2012. However, shoulder injuries wiped out two years of Profar’s career, and he’s followed up a lackluster 2016 season with a dismal start to the 2017 campaign. Through his first 46 plate appearances this season, the switch-hitting Profar mustered just a .135/.289/.135 batting line.
The decision to option Profar, general manager Jon Daniels tells Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, came down to the simple matter that the team did not want him gathering rust on the bench.
“The way the rotation is in left field and the infield right now, with the lack of regular playing time, we felt the time was better spent at Triple-A playing every day,” said Daniels. “We believe he’s capable of more, but he’s just not going to get better sitting on the bench.”
Playing time has been an issue for Profar since returning from his shoulder troubles last season. Elvis Andrus is locked into a long-term deal at Profar’s natural shortstop, while Rougned Odor has broken out as a power-hitting second baseman and been rewarded with a six-year contract of his own. When Adrian Beltre opened the season on the disabled list, the third base role went to Joey Gallo, who has thrived in 2017. Profar was relegated to left field to begin the season, but his anemic performance at the plate ultimately led the Rangers to give Ryan Rua more time there.
Profar’s lack of a defined role on the team has made him a popular trade candidate among speculators over the past year, though it’s currently difficult to imagine his trade value being at a much lower point than it currently resides. Since returning to the Majors in 2016, Profar has batted .227/.317/.314, and though he just turned 24 years old in February, he’s not exactly a highly controllable option, either; Profar entered the 2017 season with three years, 124 days of Major League service time thanks to the fact that he accrued two years of service while on the 60-day disabled list due to his shoulder troubles.
While Grant notes that the demotion temporarily halts Profar’s service clock, it would take a significant amount of time in the minors to prevent him from getting to four years of service in 2017. With 29 days of service time already under his belt this season, Profar would reach four years of service time with just 19 more days at the Major League level. In other words, he’d effectively have to spend almost the rest of the season in Triple-A in order to delay his free agency until the 2020-21 offseason.